Lewis Hamilton ‘devastated’ to miss Sunday’s race after testing positive for COVID-19

Lewis Hamilton COVID-19 positive
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SAKHIR, Bahrain — Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain

The Mercedes team said in a statement Tuesday that Hamilton was tested three times last week and returned a negative result each time, the last on Sunday afternoon before his victory at the Bahrain International Circuit.

“But he up woke Monday morning with mild symptoms and was informed at the same time that a contact prior to arrival in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive,” the team said. “Lewis, therefore, took a further test and returned a positive result. This has since been confirmed by a retest.”

In a social media post Tuesday, Hamilton wrote he was “devastated” to be sidelined, noting he and Mercedes had taken as many precautions as possible while following all protocols.

Hamilton said he had gone into self-isolation for 10 days, which would leave open the possibility for returning in the Dec. 13 season finale at Abu Dhabi. His absence from Sunday’s race (which will take place on a different layout at the same track in Bahrain) will snap a streak of 265 consecutive F1 starts for Hamilton, who made his debut in the 2007 season opener.

“I’m gutted not to be able to race this weekend, but my priority is to follow the protocols and advice to protect others,” Hamilton posted. “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.”

“Apart from mild symptoms, he is otherwise fit and well, and the entire team sends him its very best wishes for a swift recovery,” the team statement said.

Hamilton, 35, appeared to be drained at the end of the Bahrain GP, which was marred by an opening-lap crash that left Romain Grosjean with minor burns to his hands and ankles.

“It’s physical, this track has always been physical. We’ve got lots of high-speed corners so I was definitely feeling it,” Hamilton said after his 95th career victory. “I was sliding around a lot out there and I wasn’t really quite sure how it would play out at the end.”

Hamilton clinched the drivers’ championship last month in Turkey and has a big lead in the standings with 332 points, well ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas (201) and Max Verstappen (189).

He has won 11 races this season. But missing the Sakhir GP means he will not be able to win a 13th and equal Sebastian Vettel’s record, set in 2013 with Red Bull.

Hamilton also will miss out on reaching a 100th pole position. His pole last weekend was the record-extending 98th of his career.

The Mercedes team said it would announce a replacement driver later in the week. Reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne already was scheduled to travel to Bahrain after Formula E testing in Valencia.

After clinching the championship in Turkey, Hamilton talked of how vigilant he’d been to avoid contracting COVID-19. In March, he posted a health update after being at an event attended by multiple celebrities who tested positive for COVID-19.

Hamilton is the third F1 driver to test positive for COVID-19 this season, following Sergio Perez (who missed two consecutive races at Silverstone) and Lance Stroll in Germany. Formula One administers thousands of tests before and during every race weekend, limiting paddock access to those who test negative.

Formula One organizers said Hamilton needs a negative test before being allowed to return to the F1 paddock and, therefore, remains a doubtful starter for the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

How to Watch Nitro Rallycross

Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.