Abu Dhabi (dpa) – Lewis Hamilton was unable to get out of his Mercedes after the end of his forced Corona break.
The fastest training lap was canceled in Abu Dhabi on Friday for the Formula 1 world champion, and technical problems caused the 35-year-old Brit to delay twice.
On his return to the track, Hamilton returned to second place for the Emirates Grand Prix. Teammate Valtteri Bottas from Finland set the fastest time, Max Verstappen in the Red Bull finished third. After being defeated, Sebastian Vettel was only 15th in place for his last Grand Prix with Ferrari, which was far behind.
“I can’t express how grateful I am to be back. Back with my team and back with what I love,” Hamilton tweeted. The corona infection did not leave him without a trace, the long-term winner revealed in a video on Tuesday: “That was definitely one of the toughest weeks I’ve had in some time.”
The seven-time world champion had to be quarantined a week ago after a positive corona test in Bahrain. Only on Thursday did he get the approval to participate in the season finale.
He has been world champion again since the Turkish Grand Prix in mid-November, but did not want to miss his participation at the end of the turbulent Corona emergency season. Hamilton is record winner in Abu Dhabi with five successes, the third consecutive victory is possible on Sunday (2.10 p.m. / RTL and Sky). The fact that he could not set the fastest time on the first day was also due to the fact that he lost the track shortly before the end of his best lap. He also complained of problems with the transmission and earlier with the brakes.
After the race, Hamilton’s contract expires. The negotiations should have taken place last week, but the corona infection has prevented that. “We absolutely agree on the preconditions. Now we wait for him to get back on his feet – then we will speak”, said motorsport boss Toto Wolff of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, who cannot imagine a change of his star. “I don’t think Lewis would ever want to drive anywhere else. I also think he has unfinished business,” said the 48-year-old Austrian.
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Hamilton’s ex-rival Vettel says goodbye to Ferrari after six years. “I feel like any other race,” said the four-time world champion. But it can get emotional in the garage before and after the Grand Prix.
The Heppenheimer will drive for the new Aston Martin factory team from 2021 and expects few opportunities for the Scuderia in the 118th race. “This route doesn’t really suit us,” said Vettel, who was 1,922 seconds behind in practice. In the World Cup rankings, the 33-year-old is 13th as bad as never before in his career.
Mick Schumacher was 18th in the first practice. The 21-year-old was in the car of his future employer Haas for the first time and took over the car from the Dane Kevin Magnussen. Schumacher drove 23 laps and made no mistakes. From 2021, Michael Schumacher’s son will become a regular driver for the US team.