Mercedes Formula 1 team principal Toto Wolff remains cautious about the prospect of Lewis Hamilton returning to action for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 

The seven-time world champion was ruled out of this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix after returning a positive COVID-19 test, with Williams driver George Russell stepping in to replace him alongside Valtteri Bottas. Wolff revealed Hamilton is “not feeling great” after suffering from mild coronavirus symptoms. 

Hamilton is required to self-isolate for 10 days in Bahrain and must provide a negative test before returning to the F1 paddock, making it unclear whether he would be able to contest the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi

Although Wolff feels it is “perfectly feasible” for Hamilton to return in time for the finale at the Yas Marina Circuit, he conceded he is wary of a potential further positive test.

“We have seen tests that were negative within 10 days so I think that is perfectly feasible, in my opinion,” Wolff said. 

“But it would be a very positive development. Nevertheless, you need to look at the situation because there are many athletes and sports people out there that have tested positive for a long time after any symptoms and after they’ve been infectious. 

“This is something the FIA needs to look into, anyway.”

Wolff stressed that Hamilton does not need permission for his activities after reports emerged that he had contracted COVID-19 while in Dubai before travelling to the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

"Lewis doesn't need to have any permission," Wolff said.

"He rides anything he wants, he jumps out of any airplane he wants, because he knows best what is good for him. He is a grown-up man, and this was never an issue.

“I think contracting Covid-19 is something that we are not all very sure where we get it. If you ask Mario [Isola, Pirelli’s head of motorsport] where he got it he’s probably not going to know where.

“It’s just unfortunate. He was protecting himself a lot and then you go to Dubai, you wear your mask all the time and you come back with Corona. These things happen.”

"His priority now is to get healthy," Wolff added. 

"I'm not sure he's going to follow in detail what is happening on-track if you're in bed and not feeling great. Racing becomes a second priority.”

And Wolff admitted the timeline for negotiations with Hamilton had once again been pushed back as a result, with talks over a renewed deal now on hold until the Briton returns to full health. 

"The timeline is being pushed back until he recovers," Wolff said. "We know that we need to get it done, pretty well aware both of us.

"The priority now is him getting back on his feet and being back negative, and then we will meet or Zoom in order to put pen to paper.”

 

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