Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is “not great” after testing positive for COVID-19, according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

The recently-crowned seven-time world champion is missing the first race of his F1 career after being ruled out of this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix following a positive test for coronavirus earlier this week. Hamilton is the third driver to have contracted COVID-19 this season after Racing Point duo Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.

Speaking to Sky after the first practice session in Bahrain, Wolff provided an update on Hamilton’s current condition as he recovers from the virus.

"He’s not great,” Wolff said when asked for an update on how Hamilton is. “I mean, Covid-19 is something that you mustn’t take lightly and he’s in safe hands, that’s most important, but it’s those early days that are always not so nice."

Wolff added that Hamilton has “symptoms but they are relatively mild” when he addressed the media in the Friday press conference shortly afterwards.

Hamilton has been replaced at Mercedes by George Russell, who has been loaned from Williams in order to make his debut for the German manufacturer.

Russell made a flying start to his weekend by topping the opening practice session in Sakhir from Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, while Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was only fourth-quickest.

“P1 was a good session but we need to calm everybody down,” Wolff said. “He delivered a really solid job in what we expect from him on a single lap.

“It’s difficult to establish a benchmark because Valtteri broke his car early on and it was difficult for him to stop it properly.

“It was like for like but Valtteri broke his car pretty early on in the session on the lap and you could see that towards his runs at the end there was severe blocking on the left-right,” Wolff added.

“He even stopped running so we didn’t see Valtteri in the right car but this is not to diminish George’s performance for the first time in the car, it’s good.”

 

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