“I’ve immediately gone into self-isolation for ten days.”
Mercedes announced the result this morning. “The entire team sends him our very best wishes for a swift recovery,” it said.
The team will appoint a replacement to fill Hamilton’s much-envied Mercedes seat, with reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne a likely candidate.
Vandoorne is currently testing with the Mercedes Formula E team in Valencia and was always due to be in Bahrain for the race.
Simulator driver Esteban Gutierrez is another potential candidate, as is George Russell, who is part of the Mercedes programme. However, Williams may be reluctant to release Russell given the high-speed nature of Bahrain’s Outer Circuit, which will be used for this weekend’s race, giving the team one of its best chances of a points finish.
Just stretching, what’s going on?! pic.twitter.com/bILrJcaf68
— Stoffel Vandoorne (@svandoorne) December 1, 2020
Hamilton’s enforced isolation means that he cannot now reach the milestone of 100 pole positions this year, and will not be able to equal the record of 13 wins in a single Formula 1 season.
He’s the third driver this year to miss a race due to Covid-19, after Racing Point team-mates Sergio Perez and then Lance Stroll tested positive earlier this year, when they were replaced by Nico Hülkenberg.
“I’m gutted not to be able to race this weekend but my priority is to follow the protocols and advice to protect others,” wrote Hamilton. “I’m really lucky that I feel ok with only mild symptoms and will do my best to stay fit and healthy.”