Lewis Hamilton, the 2020 Formula 1 champion, is back in action after testing positive for COVID-19 following the Bahrain Grand Prix. He missed the Sakhir GP while expressing optimism about his ability to return in time for the Abu Dhabi GP. Hamilton was able to achieve his goal and take part in Saturday's qualifying sessions.
Hamilton will start Sunday's GP in third place overall after fighting with teammate Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen for the pole position, Red Bull's first Saturday victory of the season. Hamilton and Bottas were only separated by a mere tenth of a second. Following the qualifying session, the seven-time champion told reporters that he was not his usual self and still felt some effects of coronavirus.
I wasn’t sure I’d be here this weekend. I focused on healing my body as fast as I could and feel so grateful to have made it. @Max33Verstappen did a great job, as did @ValtteriBottas, and it’s great to see McLaren so close. I will give it my all tomorrow 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/V6FCNAsM1Z— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) December 12, 2020
"Today was definitely hard. Actually, I think yesterday and today have both been a couple of the hardest days I've had probably in the car this year," Hamilton said to Sky Sports F1. "I gave it everything I could, it was just not the perfect laps and not the usual me. I struggled with the car but I gave it everything I've got and it's close between us all. It's not miles of at least. I know there's work to do tomorrow and there's lots of opportunity."
As Hamilton continued to explain, he is not quite 100% ahead of the season-ending race. He said that he still has some "feeling" in his lungs. However, Hamilton explained that he would still drive even if one of his arms "was hanging off. That's what we do as racing drivers and luckily that's not the case."
Hamilton initially returned a positive test on Nov. 30, forcing him to pull out of the Sakhir GP. He went into isolation for 10 days while George Russell replaced him for the race. The Mercedes driver posted a negative test in Bahrain on Wednesday and then left isolation on Thursday.
Now Hamilton will return to action and try to cap off another standout season. He has already secured the championship, but he can achieve a new personal best on Sunday by winning his 12th race of the season. "It's going to be tough to beat these guys tomorrow but I'm excited to be in there and in the fight," Hamilton said.