Verstappen negative after contact with Covid-case Hamilton

Sakhir (Bahrain) (AFP) –


Max Verstappen has returned a negative test for Covid-19 ahead of this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix amid concerns that he had been a 'close contact' of Lewis Hamilton last weekend.

The newly-crowned seven-time champion Hamilton returned a positive test result on Monday following his victory at last Sunday’s dramatic Bahrain Grand Prix, where he shared the podium and post-race media commitments with Verstappen.

The Dutchman was tested on Wednesday and his result was negative, according to Dutch news reports.

Verstappen also revealed on his website that he had contacted his family during the stoppage last Sunday following Romain Grosjean’s fireball crash and miraculous escape.

"The Grosjean crash was fierce," he said. "I face-timed with my father and sister and had a chat and sent some messages.

"When the red flag was waved and we were still on our way to the pit lane, we saw the flames.

"That was the worst moment. At the time, I didn’t know what had happened or whether he was out of the car yet.

"Once we got to the pit lane, we had seen on the screen that Grosjean had jumped out of the car. Then you know that it is fortunately relatively okay.

"Crashes do happen, which is of course not nice. This was a huge hit that you hope never happens."

Verstappen will be bidding to take advantage of Hamilton's absence this weekend to claim victory and press home his bid to take the runners-up place in the drivers’ championship ahead of the Briton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Briton George Russell has been released by Williams to replace Hamilton this weekend while Brazilian Pietro Fittipaldi makes his debut as Grosjean's substitute in the Haas team.