YAS ISLAND, Abu Dhabi (AP) — Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has recovered from the coronavirus and will race at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend, the Mercedes team said Thursday.
Hamilton's presence at the Yas Marina circuit means that George Russell returns to drive for Williams in Sunday's race.
The seven-time world champion tested positive for COVID-19 the day after winning the Bahrain GP on Nov. 29 and missed last weekend's Sakhir GP in Bahrain as he self-isolated for 10 days.
“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,” Mercedes said in a statement. “Lewis has therefore completed the protocols required by the FIA for his entry to the paddock and will be able to take part in the race weekend.”
Governing body FIA confirmed that Hamilton was free to leave Bahrain according to the health authority regulations in place.
There are two practice sessions in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Russell was released by Williams to drive for Mercedes as an emergency replacement for Hamilton, and he impressed with his assured driving at the Sakhir GP.
He even looked on course to win the race before a botched tire stop by the team and a late puncture when he was in second place combined to push him down to ninth place. But the 22-year-old British driver's speed saw him earn a bonus point for the fastest lap and earn widespread praise.
Hamilton has won the Abu Dhabi GP a record five times, including the past two years.
He has an insurmountable lead over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who can still be overtaken for second place by Red Bull's Max Verstappen.
Sunday will also feature Sebastian Vettel's last race with Ferrari after joining the Italian team in 2015. The four-time F1 champion, who has struggled most of the season, is racing for Aston Martin next year.
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