Lewis Hamilton makes 'big step' in coronavirus recovery as Mercedes wait on Abu Dhabi GP news
"He said it's a bit better, he feels he's made a big step, and if the test is negative then it's his car and then he will for sure drive a brilliant race," says Toto Wolff on Lewis Hamilton's Abu Dhabi prospects with world champion still in isolation
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 07/12/20 4:35pm
Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton's condition is improving as he continues his recovery from coronavirus and Mercedes now wait to learn whether their star driver will be able to return for this week's season-ending Abu Dhabi GP.
George Russell will again replace Hamilton if the seven-time champion does not register a negative result, Mercedes' team boss said on Sunday night.
Hamilton, who has been suffering from mild Covid-19 symptoms, remains in a period of isolation in his hotel room in Bahrain and Wolff said on Sunday night that the Briton is "getting better every day".
"We need to see how well Lewis recovers, that's the most important [thing], that he's well," Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
"He said it's a bit better today [Sunday], he feels he's made a big step, and if the test is negative then it's his car and then he will for sure drive a brilliant race.
"And if the test in Abu Dhabi is [positive] then George is in the car."
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Hamilton's 10-day isolation period ends on Thursday. There are extensive regulations governing the Abu Dhabi event on the Yas Marina island.
Speaking to Sky Sports News on Friday, Wolff said the cut-off to know if Hamilton would be able to return was "probably next Thursday [December 10]".
In his only social media post since news of his positive news was announced last Tuesday, Hamilton said he felt "gutted" to miss out on racing in Bahrain. Russell went on to star in his place on his debut for Mercedes and would have won Sunday's race but for tyre problems.
"He's pragmatic in a way because he's not to blame for having the virus, that can happen to anybody," said Wolff when asked how desperate Hamilton was to return for Abu Dhabi.
"I think he would be happier if would be here racing his car and not having anybody else driving it around, but it is what it is and he's always come back much stronger from these painful experiences and I have no doubt this is another building block on his progression and development as a driver and human being."
Hamilton wrapped up his seventh world championship three races ago in Turkey.
Wolff, meanwhile, made clear that Russell's stunning performance would have no bearing on the nature of contract talks with Hamilton. The Briton's deal expires at the end of the month and, although he is all-but certain to re-sign for 2021, negotiations have been further delayed by Hamilton's positive Covid-19 test.
"They are two different things," said Wolff of Hamilton's contract renewal and Russell's performance.
"Lewis has been with the team eight years, we have had great success in the past, he's a team member and none of the events this weekend will interfere or change any of our negotiations.
"That wouldn't be fair against him but then it wouldn't be fair against us because it could have gone the other way around and a race weekend where George wouldn't have been on the pace. I don't think that he would say 'well, hold on a minute now this is an advantage for me'. Our relationship goes much beyond that."