Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said he was still feeling the after-effects of COVID-19 after qualifying third for Formula One’s Abu Dhabi season-ender but vowed to give his all in Sunday’s race.
The 35-year-old Mercedes driver has returned after testing positive for the new coronavirus and missing the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain last weekend. He has tested negative repeatedly this week.
The Briton did not want to go into medical detail but said the virus had to be taken seriously and he felt for all those who had suffered from it or were mourning lost loved ones.
“I am not 100%, I still have some feeling within my lungs,” he said.
“Normally, I would drive even if one of my arms was hanging off. That’s what we do as racing drivers and luckily that’s not the case,” he added.
“It definitely won’t be the easiest of races physically but I will manage and give it absolutely everything I’ve got.”
Hamilton clinched his record-equalling seventh championship in Turkey last month and is the most successful F1 driver of all time.
He has won 11 of 16 races, equalling his best season performance, but a 12th win of 2020 would be the icing on the cake of another stellar season that has seen Mercedes take both titles for the seventh year in a row.
Asked whether adrenalin had carried him through, Hamilton said it was more about overall energy.
“One of the (COVID) symptoms is it really drains you so I’m trying to sleep as much as I can,” he said. “But recharging is not as easy as it perhaps normally has been in the past.”
Mercedes have won the last six races in Abu Dhabi but Red Bull’s Max Verstappen seized pole position on Saturday with Hamilton’s Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas joining him on the front row.
Verstappen and Bottas are fighting for the runner-up position in the championship, with the Finn 16 points clear of the Dutchman.