The F1 confirmed the bombshell news in a statement on Tuesday evening AEDT.
BREAKING: Lewis Hamilton will miss this weekend's Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain after a positive test for Covid-19 pic.twitter.com/c0XCfyDmWZ— Formula 1 (@F1) December 1, 2020
“The FIA, Formula 1 and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team can today confirm that during mandatory pre-race PCR testing for the Sakhir Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19,” the statement read.
“In accordance with COVID-19 protocols and public health authority guidelines in Bahrain he is now isolating. All contacts have been declared. The procedures set out by the FIA and Formula 1 will ensure no wider impact on this weekend’s event.”
The British superstar has already secured the 2020 F1 Drivers’ Championship, regardless of whether he features in the season’s final two races.
On Sunday, Hamilton won his 11th Grand Prix of the season at Bahrain International Circuit, extending his lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas in second place.
The news throws the Formula 1 grid into chaos with Mercedes set to announce the superstar’s replacement driver in due course.
“The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team regrets to announce that Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be unable to take part in this weekend’s Sakhir GP,” a team statement read.
“Lewis was tested three times last week and returned a negative result each time, the last of which was on Sunday afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit as part of the standard race weekend testing progamme.
“However, he woke up on Monday morning with mild symptoms and was informed at the same time that a contact prior to arrival in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive. Lewis therefore took a further test and returned a positive result. This has since been confirmed by a retest.
“Lewis is now isolating in accordance with COVID-19 protocols and public health authority guidelines. Apart from mild symptoms, he is otherwise fir and well, and the entire team sends him our very best wishes for a swift recovery.
“We will announce our replacement driver plans for this weekend in due course.”
Autosport reporter Luke Smith said Mercedes’ designated reserve driver would be travelling to Bahrain after doing a Formula E test.
On Tuesday, Hamilton released a statement on his Instagram, saying he was “gutted” to be missing out on the Sakhir Grand Prix.
“I’m devastated that I won’t be racing this weekend. Since we started this season in June, my team and I have been taking all the precautions we possibly can and following the regulations everywhere we’ve been in order to stay safe,” Hamilton posted.
“Unfortunately, even though I returned three negative results this past week, I woke up yesterday morning with mild symptoms and requested another test which came back positive. I’ve immediately gone into self-isolation for 10 days.
“I’m gutted not to be able to race this weekend, but my priority is to follow the protocols and advice to protect others. I’m really lucky that I feel ok with only mild symptoms and will do my best to stay fit and healthy.
“Please look after yourselves out there, you can never be too careful. These are worrying times for everyone and we need to make sure we are looking after ourselves and each other. Stay positive.”
Hamilton is the third driver to test positive for COVID-19 this season after Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.