Lewis Hamilton returning to complete the 2020 season in Abu Dhabi after returning necessary negative Covid-19 tests in Bahrain and on arrival in UAE after 10-day isolation ends; George Russell returns to his seat at Williams

By James Galloway

Last Updated: 10/12/20 6:48pm

Lewis Hamilton will return for F1’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend after recovering from coronavirus and recording negative tests.

The seven-time world champion missed last week’s Sakhir GP after contracting Covid-19 and served a 10-day period of isolation in Bahrain, which ended on Thursday. The FIA says Hamilton record “a number of negative COVID-19 tests”, first on Wednesday and then on his arrival in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

George Russell will revert to his seat at Williams after starring in Hamilton’s place last weekend. The 22-year-old was on standby to fill in again completed media engagements for Mercedes in the Abu Dhabi paddock on Thursday.

A Mercedes statement read: “Lewis tested negative for Covid-19 on Wednesday prior to completion of his self-isolation period in Bahrain. This enabled him to travel to Abu Dhabi on Thursday afternoon, and he tested negative on arrival.

“Lewis has therefore completed the protocols required by the FIA for his entry to the paddock tomorrow and will be able to take part in the race weekend.”

3:05 Speaking before Lewis Hamilton’s return was confirmed, George Russell spoke about the impact of his stunning Mercedes debut.

Speaking before Lewis Hamilton’s return was confirmed, George Russell spoke about the impact of his stunning Mercedes debut.

Hamilton will return to track action in Friday morning’s first practice session in Abu Dhabi, which starts at 9am live on Sky Sports F1. Sunday’s race, the 17th and final one of the season, is live at 1.10pm.

Last weekend was the first race that Hamilton had missed since his F1 career began in 2007, after a record run of 265 consecutive starts. He had already clinched this year’s world drivers’ title – a record-equalling seventh for the Englishman – at last month’s Turkish GP.

In a video update on Tuesday, Hamilton said that while he had experienced “one of the hardest weeks that I’ve had for some time” he was feeling better and had completed his first training session since his positive test on November 30.

Seriously though, glad to see @LewisHamilton back and fighting fit. Had a blast with @MercedesAMGF1 but now I’m buzzing to put everything I’ve learned into action with my team @WilliamsRacing. Gonna give it everything this weekend – just as they do for me week in, week out ?

— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) December 10, 2020

With their star driver sidelined, Mercedes turned to the 22-year-old Russell to fill the considerable void left by Hamilton – and their faith in the Englishman, whose career they manage, was vindicated.

Despite never having driven the team’s double title-winning W11 before his GP debut for the team in practice, Russell was immediately on the pace and qualified within 0.026s of Mercedes regular Valtteri Bottas’ pole position for second on the grid. Russell then overtook Bottas at the start of last Sunday’s race and was on course for a stunning maiden F1 victory before a Mercedes pit-stop calamity and subsequent puncture dropped him to ninth.

Russell will again find himself racing towards the back of the field at Williams this weekend. Jack Aitken, who subbed for Russell, will revert to his reserve driver role at the team.

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