The bad news is that Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix from Bahrain. The good news is that he has already won the championship so at least that isn’t at risk and he can fully focus on his recovery.
The big question on everyone’s mind is, who will replace Lewis at Mercedes. The team said:
“The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team regrets to announce that Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be unable to take part in this weekend’s Sakhir GP.
Lewis was tested three times last week and returned a negative result each time, the last of which was on Sunday afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit as part of the standard race weekend testing programme.
However, he woke up on Monday morning with mild symptoms and was informed at the same time that a contact prior to arrival in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive. Lewis therefore took a further test and returned a positive result. This has since been confirmed by a retest.
Lewis is now isolating in accordance with COVID-19 protocols and public health authority guidelines in Bahrain. Apart from mild symptoms, he is otherwise fit and well, and the entire team sends him its very best wishes for a swift recovery.
We will announce our replacement driver plans for this weekend in due course.”
There is lots of speculation about who will replace Lewis this weekend with the current reserve driver, Stoffel Vandorne, as a leading candidate but he doesn’t have current experience with this version of an F1 car. That’s not to say he hasn’t done a lot of simulation work and knows the systems.
There is also the stand-in journeyman, Nico Hulkenberg, who is being spoken of and that’s a good idea as he has subbed for Racing Point twice this year and has current experience in these cars.
Then there is the idea of giving George Russel a chance and he has more experience than Hulkenberg with the 2020 cars.
If it were me, I would work a deal with Williams to give George a shot. I think this young man should be in a Mercedes next year instead of Bottas and this would be a good chance to prove whether that notion is correct or if he isn’t quite ready for primetime.
I like the idea of Hulkenberg too as it would be his best chance of actually winning race and that is something that has eluded him in F1.
Who would you pick?