Lewis Hamilton confesses to feigning illness to miss an F1 test

Oliver Harden
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton wipes his brow on the grid at the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he has pretended to be ill to get out of pesky F1 test days during his career.

Hamilton has long made clear his dislike of F1 testing, admitting he gains little pleasure from driving around endlessly with no competitive edge.

And his anti-testing stance became clear once again when Mercedes uploaded footage from their end-of-season team talk at their Brackley and Brixworth factories to the team’s official YouTube channel.

Lewis Hamilton pulled sickies to avoid F1 testing

In the clip, Hamilton is seen addressing a group of Mercedes workers alongside team boss Toto Wolff and reserve driver Mick Schumacher, with team-mate George Russell a notable absentee.

Wolff addresses Russell’s absence from the off, informing the room that the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix winner had to pull out through illness.

“George is really ill. It’s not a sickie that he pulled,” Wolff says as a mischievous Hamilton breaks into a smile.

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“I was wondering,” Hamilton interjects, breaking into laughter.

“In the past I have done that to miss test days because I just generally don’t like test days, so yesterday when I heard that he was sick I was like: ‘Oh, he’s one-upped me. He’s gone to another level.'”

Russell was visibly ill over the closing weeks of the 2023 season, which finished with a demanding double header in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, complaining that he was “coughing loads” and had been limited to just four hours’ sleep per night over a two-week period.

He told media including PlanetF1.com after the final race in Abu Dhabi: “I’ve had a horrendous cough that stayed with me all week and in the car.

“I was coughing every single lap but when you’re strapped into the car, you can’t breathe. You can’t take a deep breath in to get the cough out, so it was just constantly with me.

“It was pretty miserable, so I was pleased to bring it home when I saw that chequered flag.”

Hamilton stands as the most successful driver in F1 history, having equalled Michael Schumacher’s long-standing record of seven World Championships in 2020 before becoming the first man to claim more than 100 grand prix victories and pole positions the following year.

The 38-year-old claimed a record-extending 104th pole at the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix, but remains without a win since the penultimate round of the 2021 season in Saudi Arabia.

While his 2021 title rival Max Verstappen has won 44 of the last 66 races since the start of 2021, Hamilton has now recorded two winless seasons in succession having won at least one race every year since his debut with McLaren in 2007.

Read next: Lewis Hamilton pace claim made by Mercedes team-mate George Russell

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