Coronavirus-stricken Lewis Hamilton is “not great” as he deals with the reality of missing his first Formula One race in 13 years.
The seven-time world champion has been ruled out of Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain after testing positive earlier this week.
Hamilton is self-isolating in his hotel and has been replaced by 22-year-old compatriot George Russell this weekend.
And his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has suggested his star driver is facing a race against time to be fit for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after suffering mild symptoms.
He said: “He is not great. Covid-19 is something you mustn’t take lightly and he is in safe hands. That is the most important.
“But it is those early days that are always not so nice.”
Hamilton’s illness will force him to miss his first race since he made his debut with McLaren in 2007.
And Wolff added: “Mild symptoms and then obviously, as you can imagine, a race driver out of his car and combine it with Covid, he would rather sit in there [the team garage].”
Meanwhile, Russell’s fairytale week continued after he posted the fastest time in opening practice for the Sakhir Grand Prix.
The British driver, who is racing Hamilton’s world championship winning Mercedes this weekend in Bahrain, finished 0.176 seconds clear of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas fourth.
Russell, 22, who has yet to score a single point in his Formula One career, will start among the favourites to win on Sunday after Mercedes agreed a deal to release him from his Williams contract.
Russell could have been excused for showing signs of nerves on his Mercedes debut but the Englishman ended the opening running of the weekend on top.
His appearance here is seen as something for an audition for a drive with the sport’s all-conquering team in 2022 and his three-tenth advantage over Bottas in the other Mercedes will have been the start to the weekend Russell would have wanted.
The sport is back racing in Bahrain, just five days after Romain Grosjean’s fireball crash stunned the world.