Though he retook the points lead from Formula One championship rival Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton disclosed after finishing second Sunday that he still might be battling another nemesis: COVID-19.
Hamilton struggled to catch his breath in a postrace TV interview after charging from 14th to third (later elevated a spot because of Sebastian Vettel’s disqualification) and battling furiously for several laps with two-time champion Fernando Alonso during the 70-lap race. During the podium celebration with race winner Esteban Ocon and Vettel, Hamilton said he experienced blurred vision.
He said the symptoms could be the aftereffects of recovering from a bout with COVID-19 that sidelined him for a race last season.
“I’m OK, had real big dizziness, and everything got a bit blurry on the podium,” Hamiltton said after arriving late to the postrace news conference, according to the F1 website. “I’ve been fighting all year really with staying healthy after what happened at the end of last year, and it’s still a battle.
LEWIS: "I want to say congratulations to the Alpine team and to Esteban for his first win – he's been a shining star for a long time.
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 1, 2021
“I haven’t spoken to anyone about it but I think (the effects of COVID-19) lingering. I remember the effects of when I had it, and training has been different since then. The level of fatigue you get is different, and it’s a real challenge.
“I continue to train and prepare the best way I can. Today, who knows what it is? Maybe it’s hydration, I don’t know, but I’ve definitely not had this experience. Had something similar at Silverstone, but this is way worse.”
UPDATE: @LewisHamilton is currently seeing the team doctor, suffering from fatigue and mild dizziness.
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) August 1, 2021
After testing positive last Nov. 30 for COVID-19, Hamilton missed the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain. He returned a week later for the 2020 season finale in Abu Dhabi but admitted he was less than 100 percent before finishing third in the race.
“One of the [COVID-19] symptoms is it really drains you,” Hamilton said after practice Dec. 12. “I’ve been trying to sleep as much as I can, but recharging is not as easy as it perhaps normally has been in the past. I lost a good amount of weight just in that week, so as I said not 100 percent the last time I raced, but it’s by no means going to get in the way of me going out and giving my all tomorrow.”
He was sidelined just days after winning the Bahrain GP and two weeks after clinching his record-tying seventh championship with a victory in Turkey. Hamilton is among five F1 drivers who have recovered from COVID-19. The list also includes Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll, Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly.
Hamilton has won four of the first 11 races this season to open a 10-point lead over Verstappen entering F1’s August break.