Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said there is a possibility Lewis Hamilton will return to action for the 2020 season finale in Abu Dhabi.
The Sakhir Grand Prix was the first race that Hamilton has ever missed since his Formula 1 career started in 2007 and that was because the seven-time World Champion tested positive for Covid-19 after experiencing mild symptoms following the Bahrain Grand Prix.
As a result, Hamilton was placed into a period of self-isolation, as per the protocols, and Mercedes, with the blessing of Williams, were able to call up George Russell to replace him.
Russell, despite Hamilton’s car not suiting his taller frame, was seriously impressive on his Silver Arrows debut. He was marginally pipped to pole position by Valtteri Bottas but the Brit completely outclassed him on race day.
After dominating a large part of the race, a series of unfortunate events ensured he would finish down in a very undeserved P9.
With the dust now settling on the Sakhir race, attentions turn to what the Mercedes driver line-up is going to look like for the final race of the season.
Wolff was asked for an update following the Sakhir Grand Prix and said Hamilton was heading in the right direction to return.
“Well I think we still need to see how Lewis recovers. That is the most important thing: that he is well,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“He said that he felt a bit better today [Sunday] and feels like he has made a big step. So if the test is negative then it’s his car and for sure will then drive a brilliant race.
“But if the test is positive then it will be George in the car.”
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 6, 2020
FIA race director, Michael Masi, has given an insight into the process involved in allowing Hamilton to return to the W11.
“Obviously the main part with all of this has always been complying with the respective governments, laws and regulations,” said Masi, via Motorsport.com.
“So it’s very much a decision for the Bahraini health authorities to determine if Lewis is fit and complies with their regulations, and then further for the Abu Dhabi authorities to determine their criteria.
“So it’s effectively two government entities that need to determine entry criteria. If he meets the entry criteria of the respective governments and then further complies with the testing protocol from an FIA perspective, in being tested negative prior to entering the paddock, then there’s no problems from our perspective.
“Within the current framework of the regulations, similar to what was used in Nurburgring, as long as the driver participates in a practice session, or qualifying, they’re permitted to race.
“So technically here and now a driver only has to fulfil one of those criteria.
“So they couldn’t just turn up and race, as their only thing, they would have to do one of the practice sessions, be it free practice or qualifying practice beforehand.”