Sebastian Vettel will miss the Bahrain Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19, with Nico Hulkenberg replacing him at Aston Martin.
The positive test is the second among the current grid so far this season before the first race has even begun, with Daniel Ricciardo testing positive last week. While Ricciardo has now tested negative multiple times and is free to end isolation today and return to driving, Vettel’s result rules him out of the full opening weekend, meaning reserve driver Hulkenberg will race instead.
Hulkenberg will be in the car from FP1 onwards and will need to get up to speed quickly, having not driven the 2022 car at any stage in pre-season testing. Hulkenberg’s last start in an F1 car was at the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix, where he substituted for Lance Stroll. That was one of two appearances he made that season, as Sergio Perez also tested positive for COVID-19 and missed the two Silverstone races.
The timing of the result means there is a chance Vettel will be able to complete his mandatory isolation in Bahrain in time to return to the grid in Saudi Arabia next week.
Vettel’s absence means this weekend will be the first grand prix event without Vettel taking part since the 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, the race before he was promoted to Toro Rosso. Vettel has failed to start just one race in that time, as his Ferrari hit reliability issues on the way to the grid in Bahrain in 2016.