Sebastian Vettel could miss the Saudi Arabian GP with Star still testing positive for Covid

Sebastian Vettel missed the season opener in Bahrain last weekend and could miss the second race of the season in Saudi Arabia as he is yet to show a negative Covid result

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F1 Preview: A lap at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel is a big doubt for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The German was forced to do it sit out last weekend F1 Season opener in Bahrain after testing positive for Covid and Aston Martin has confirmed he is yet to test negative.

As a result, the 34-year-old cannot travel to Saudi Arabia, Nico Hulkenburg will be on standby. “Sebastian Vettel has not yet returned the required negative COVID test to fly to the #SaudiArabiaGP,” he said Aston-Martin Team tweeted today.

“Nico Hulkenberg will be in Jeddah to cover for Seb if necessary. We will postpone our final decision until Friday to give Seb every opportunity to race.” Hulkenburg stepped in for Vettel last Sunday and finished 17th in one Race won by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

The German had previously stepped in for Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll at Racing Point in 2020. After his last deputy duties at Aston Martin, Hulkenburg spoke to the F1 website about the return to the grid and the changes to the cars.

“It was interesting. It was difficult, very difficult, to be honest, the first time [racing] Obviously in a long, long time,” he admitted. “So many things happen in racing, it’s so dynamic, the car balance changes, the amount of fuel changes, so it’s difficult to keep up with all these changes and too stay above things.”

As previously mentioned, Leclerc won Sunday’s Bahrain GP with teammate Carlos Sainz Jr in second place, giving Ferrari an excellent one-two. After the race, the enthusiastic Monaco native said: “Yes, yes, so happy. Again, I keep repeating myself but the last two years have been incredibly difficult for the team and we knew this was going to be a great opportunity for the team and the guys have done such an incredible job to make this amazing car to build.

Sebastian Vettel is yet to test negative for Covid and could miss the Saudi Arabian GP


(Getty Images)

“So right now, it’s starting off in the best possible way. Pole position, win, fastest lap, double win today with Carlos, we couldn’t ask for anything better. Thank you to everyone who has continued to support us, it hasn’t been easy but it’s incredible to be back on top.” Mercedes, who have been struggling all weekend, were able to escape courtesy of one secure third place Lewis Hamiltonwith teammate George Russell finishing fourth.

The pair benefited from both Red Bull drivers struggling late in the race, causing them to retire. Although Mercedes can’t keep up, team principal Christian Horner is still worried his rivals will find their groove. “I think when you see their car on the racetrack, it obviously doesn’t look easy for their drivers at the moment,” said the 48-year-old.

“But what we do know is their ability to recover. I mean, they had difficult pre-seasons before and then left and won the first race. So I think until we’ve seen … a selection of three or four races, you don’t get a real picture of the form and of course with such immature regulations the pace of development is going to be fast, it’s going to be steep, and of course a team like Mercedes – with the strength and depth that they have – will bounce back very, very quickly if they’re on their backfoot.”

He also admitted Ferrari were a step ahead of Red Bull in Bahrain as they struggle to fix the issues they encountered at the end of the race.

“The positive side for us is that we clearly have a competitive car, I don’t think we had the pace [on Sunday]but there were great races between Max and Charles,” he added.

“It’s an incredibly long season with 22 races left so we need to deal with this issue and come back stronger next week.”

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