Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2020

Hamilton says he’s not fully fit after contracting “nasty” Covid-19 virus

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Lewis Hamilton says he still isn’t fully fit after returning to racing since contracting the Covid-19 virus.

The Mercedes driver missed the last round of the championship but tested negative for the virus earlier this week and has returned to racing in Abu Dhabi. He said he has “lost a good amount of weight” during his recovery.

“I said earlier in Australia just how serious the virus is,” said Hamilton. “I can really feel for those who have suffered from it, those that have lost loved ones from it.

“It’s a nasty virus. I’m not 100%, I still have some feeling within my lungs. But nonetheless, normally I would drive even if one of my arms was hanging off, that’s what we do as racing drivers and luckily that’s not the case.”

He said tomorrow’s 55-lap race at Yas Marina will be difficult given his condition. “It definitely won’t be the easiest of races, physically,” said Hamilton. “But I will manage and give it absolutely everything I’ve got.”

Hamilton qualified third on the grid for the race behind Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas. One of his lap times was deleted in Q1 after he ran wide and hit a kerb. This left his car with floor damage, but Hamilton doesn’t believe that cost him pole position, which he missed by less than a tenth of a second.

“It did have a little bit of damage,” he said. “It’s the first time I’d gone wide there all weekend.

“There’s just a little bit of damage to the floor but I don’t think if that hadn’t have been damaged then I would have got pole. I’m sure it doesn’t help but nonetheless the guys did a good job to get it patched up and they’ll fix it overnight.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Browse all 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

65 comments on “Hamilton says he’s not fully fit after contracting “nasty” Covid-19 virus”

  1. Yeah, missing just that slight edge means the others in competative cars draw level and it is up to who manages to get the lap working and not making mistakes.

    I really am curious to see what we get in the race tomorrow. Hamilton not quite being on top form, Bottas probably thinking back to all those bad starts and his struggle passing, especially on a track where it is really hard to overtake anyway – an undercut is probably the way to go.

    1. And Verstappen on a high and with seemingly enough pace to win it too @bascb I agree that it will be interesting how the Mercedes drivers can counter.

    2. Ham, setting up his hero act.
      If I win I am so great because I did it even when not fully fit, I’m so good!
      If I don’t win it’s because I wasn’t fully recovered from covid so not really my fault…
      And I only qualified 3rd because of covid…

      1. Yep – classic Hamilton

        1. I got a kick out of him saying the car balance was off like he was struggling to get it back to where he likes it.
          He only missed one race – he makes it sound as if he has been on a sabbatical.
          Russell had to adjust to his car having never driven and was crammed into the ill fitting cockpit like a sardine but still made it look easy running away from the field.
          Sorry Lewis the cat is out of the bag. You are a great driver but many others would be also in a car of that caliber.
          This fact should save Merc a lot of $ come contact negotiations.

  2. Should have sat it out! But no, not with Russell showing what that car is capable of.

    1. Good man Rodber! Let’s keep the fairytale rolling!
      Meanwhile, in the real world…Lewis attends the socially distanced FIA gala to receive his 7th F1 World Drivers Crown. Maybe they should send George in his place?

      1. Lol Noone said George is upstaging Lewis, except Lewis said he is not fit.

        Times show Verstappen and Bottas were faster.

        1. Indeed… but this is Rodber. We know his game.
          Verstappen was excellent BTW! Impressive

          1. @DeanR
            “Russell! Thou shouldest be driving at this hour:
            Mercedes hath need of thee..”

            Not me, Wordsworth :)

  3. Not surprised at that, hope he gets completely well during winter. I think it was clear with Stroll too (Perez had no symptoms, might have been fine).

    Not going to critique him returning when not 100 percent, though maybe the FIA, in the interest of healthy working conditions, should think about it (I see people being pressured into coming to work when ill way to much around me, when in the end full recovery needs full recovery time, and often essentially at earliest stages, rather than with a backfiring rush,also with COVID. It is not a good thing to encourage in the general case)

    1. Very good point there about people being pushed to get back to work too soon @bosyber.

      I agree that it would be good if the FIA did more about that.

  4. The thing that’s so frustrating about the Russell situation is that everyone acts like it doesn’t matter/it’s just a matter of time etc, when the reality is that we have seen countless bright young talents that got wasted away in the nothingness of the lower midfield.
    Why do a ‘not really fit’ Comeback? why another season of Bottas having ‘bad luck’? and why watch Russell frustrating himself for another year scraping for P16? Noone wins here.

    1. Your looking at it from a fan perspective. But for a racing driver, they want to be back in the car at the first opportunity. Racing drivers are never content to just sit back, even for a driver as successful as Hamilton. Hope he feels better.

    2. rage ag8nst the machine

    3. Because its Lewis’ car!! Contractually!
      Lewis is a damn racer. He wants to race no matter what. That’s his right too. He has been deemed fit enough to race so is in no danger to himself or others. So, as much as I like George, he has to suck it up! He has no “right” to be racing Lewis’ car, none at all! George will not be racing the Merc this weekend so can we leave this now?

      1. @Dean R
        if he’s fit to race, why is he saying he isn’t 100%?
        Is that an excuse for starting p3 alongside Norris?

        1. Roddy baby…dont waste you energy

        2. I wonder if you’ve had a mosquito bite on your omalagato? Will itch so bad that others might think your not making any sense. Yes those are names all over the Mercedes.

    4. Mercedes has won both championships for seven years in a row. I’m quite sure they achieved that by making long term decision and not knee-jerk decisions based on one race.

      1. Lewis is winning here, and a lot, 10 wins a year of winning.

        Excellent!

  5. Well done Max! Great lap!

  6. Whenever Hamilton gets beaten to pole there’s always a really great reason why.

    1. Because hes a born winner! He is a terrible loser. Good losers dont win 7 WDCs.

      1. Nor do they get 98 PPs

    2. Bottas beating Hamilton to pole is nothing new, no COVID needed

      1. Verstappen beating both is the remarkable part.

  7. Where’s his trainer this weekend? Is she off with Covid? I didn’t see her in any of the TV coverage today.

    1. Still in quarantine.

      1. Does Nicole know they’re quarantining together? Just asking

        1. Why would you want to know whether someone he hasn’t been with for years knows or not? And if she did want to know I’m sure like the rest of us who have the slightest interest would know that Angela (and Marc Hynes) travel and live together as one unit during the F1 season; and have done for a few years.

          1. Roddy just likes to fish

        2. Who is Nicole?

          1. That’s the Minion that follows every step of hamilton

  8. Maybe, just maybe, he should’ve sat this one out. You can’t have the cake and eat it too, if your performance is being seriously affected by the virus and you’re suffering after-effects, you really shouldn’t’ be racing.

    F1 loves patting itself on its back with the way it has handled covid, but Stroll’s mysterious case at the Nurburgring and Lewis coming back before he’s healthy proves that it’s not necessarily worked all the time.

    1. Drivers have always tried to get back as quickly to their cars after be it an accident or illness. Covid is no different from any other illness or injury, the drivers will always push themselves to get better and mend on the job.

    2. @wsrgo It’s almost impossible to assess from outside, but yes, the decision doesn’t seem that sensible. Obviously drivers will push to drive so it’s up to the teams and FIA, I think, to make a slightly more impartial assessment. The last time Hamilton drove while not 100% was at Germany last year, when he led the race but span off under the SC (after a poor tyre choice). He climbed back up the field OK. So his performance seemed mildly affected, perhaps enough to lose the race, but not enough to complete it OK. This time the lingering symptoms are likely to be different, but if he’s still feeling like his lungs are affected, is racing a GP a good idea? What does he do if he starts feeling unwell and losing concentration mid race?

  9. I dont know… maybe you’re right? But Lewis is just doing what all good racing drivers would do. He wants to race and he wants win. I’m glad you’ve not mentioned George because it has nothing to do with him.
    Maybe the FIA need to be a bit more strict? But what can they do if he has tested negative?

  10. Not sure drivers should be allowed to drive like this, seems a bit quick for the return. I think after a positive test it should be a little longer. My memory always casts back to Toivonen who drove with a bad cold and we all know how that ended up. I admire his persistence to continue, but sometimes it’s not in everyone’s best interest to do so. I dunno, maybe I’m way off the mark but I don’t think he should be here.

    1. Why would they not allow him to race? He proved he could get out of the car quickly enough and is the third fastest of the day. To me that shows his fitness is okay. He has his own doctor to make sure he does not damage himself.
      He might not be at his best, but that is probably still a lot better than the likes of Latifi et al and they are allowed to race as well.

    2. @john-h It is strange that he feels the need to race. No one would have blamed him for taking the additional time off if he felt he needed it, and it is not as though either championship is at stake.

      I don’t believe the suggestion that he feels any insecurity about Russell’s Sakhir performance, either; nor that it would have affected his contract negotiations. Perhaps he felt fit enough before stepping into the car and has only now discovered that it’s tougher than he realised.

  11. Yes not completely fit, nasty virus, the covid of this second wave is a lot weaker, most people suffer very little sympthoms. So yes Hamilton, excuses excuses.

  12. Please fix your headlines Keith. Covid 19 virus? That’s like talking about the flu and saying ‘contracting nasty fever virus’ instead of calling it the flu. Call it the coronavirus when talking about the actual microbe and call it Covid 19 when talking about the symptoms. No one catches Covid they catch the coronavirus. The result of that is covid, they symptoms etc. I know you probably do it to stop using the same name for the same kind of thing in every sentence but it’s inaccurate.

    1. Well if you want to be perfectly pedantic it’s actually SARS-Cov 2, which is one among a family of coronaviruses ;)

    2. No one catches Covid they catch the coronavirus.

      Disagree

      OK, COVID-19 is a disease (please, all-caps and hyphen) and SARS-CoV-2 is the pathogen (small “o” between cap C and V, à la McL, and hyphens, to be perfectly pedantic)

      But you can catch a disease, e.g. you can catch the flu, and you can perfectly well catch COVID-19 (would you say: “no one catches the flu, they catch the influenza virus”?)

  13. … Anyone else thinks Lewis came back not perfectly fit because it might just be his last race?

    1. It might be. Good point or maybe one more win?
      Who knows……except Lewis.

    2. Ahah, that’s a fun idea, I doubt it but it’s an interesting way to look at it aside from the prevalent one.

      1. Look Lewis has a pretty good chance to roll right onto number eight in 2021. Think it out. Nobody’s gunna be any nuisance but for RedBull. I believe it’s more likely to go to Ten Championships.
        If the nextgen Merc 2022 has legs then he will go for Ten and step away. Age desire and quality equipment will shorten or extend this timeline. It’s why you replace Bottas with Russell NOW. Bottas will make another team better. Getting George must Happen. Spend money on George. Do it and the path will be set. Unless somekind of miracle ignites the back markers. Mercedes short term future is with George and Lewis. The now greatest mentoring our future greater one.

  14. He still has some funny feeling in his lungs, despite testing negative for covid shouldnt he still be self isolating with symptoms?

    1. You’d think

  15. Can’t quite get my head around the fact people are saying he should have chosen to sit it out… successful, elite sportspeople don’t do that. Motorcycle riders race with broken bones. Tennis players would rather drag themselves around a court on one leg than retire. There’ll be one or two players in every Premier League team this weekend struggling with little knocks, some possibility getting by on painkiller injections.

    “I’m not feeling 100%, I’ll give this week a miss” is amateur mentality. As much as some people really, really didn’t want him to come back, there was never even the remotest possibility of Hamilton missing this race unless he absolutely had to.

    1. Whilst that’s true, the fact he’s already won the championship should play a factor. Tennis players will do whatever they can to compete but if they just won the Championship and then had an exhibition match the following day, they’d pull out of they weren’t fit. Same with football players after their team has won the title – they wouldn’t have an injection and play through the pain if the job was already done.

    2. @neilosjames Tennis players and footballers aren’t handling a vehicle at 300+kmh though. Would you suggest elite climbers go free soloing while still in recuperation? I mean, Alex Honnold has been known to back out of climbs just because it ‘didn’t feel right that day.’ Being an elite anything is about knowing the limits of the possible. To that extent, I suppose – like Mercedes – Hamilton is calling it right. But it depends how much pressure he’s putting on himself.

      1. This is how I feel about it and very well put David. If I’m being honest this situation has an uneasy feeling about it – maybe I’ve still got the sight of Grosjean’s accident in my head. We still don’t really know the true after effects of this virus and rushing back into the most extreme sport seems a bit ill-judged especially as some of the reported after symptoms affect cognitive process.

        I don’t care where he finishes the race tomorrow I just hope he finishes safely now.

    3. So true. Look at Kimi! He basically should have retired years ago. He races for fun these days and he has a right to do so.

    4. Fair play. You articulated that better than I and you are spot on.

    5. Not so much lately, but LH has slacked sometimes after securing the WDC. Remember the last races of 2015

  16. Russell really got under everyone’s skin

    1. I don’t think so. I’m really looking forward to seeing George out there fighting Max and Charles. He is every bit as good as them.
      I can only speak for myself here but I think what annoys people is the OTT analysis that George can match anything Lewis does. GR had one race around an unusual circuit, didn’t win and didn’t beat BOT in qualy or the race. Suddenly be is every bit as good as a 7 x WDC. I think thats what annoys some.
      I’m a Lewis fan but I’m also a Notfolk boy and live approx15 mins drive from where George’s family is from (Kings Lynn) I’ve followed his career from Euro F3. So I’m a big admirer of his talents. He is not as good as Lewis and is not even at the level Lewis was at the same age as George is now. George hasn’t got under anyone’s skin, hes a great racer. Its the arm chair analysis that bothers some.

  17. Anybody would think he got absolutely hammered today, less than a 2 tenths separated the podium.

    I think it was another tyre situation today, Nax did the better job, I’m more interested in the race tomorrow.

    1. Less than a tenth…wasnt it?

  18. Hang on. He felt “better than ever” the other day, now he’s not on pole he’s not so good.

    Give me a break.

  19. You know the movie Zoolander when he does a day in the mines and claims he has the black lung ? This is how I imagine Lewis is all the time .

Comments are closed.