Lewis Hamilton has performed a COVID-19 U-turn by deciding to once again wear a mask. The Briton, who has won a joint-record seven F1 world titles, was seen sporting the face covering last weekend at the Austrian Grand Prix and has since stated “a lot of people are getting sick.”
Hamilton endured a miserable start to the 2022 F1 season as his Mercedes car was hit with porpoising issues following a winter redesign. But the 37-year-old has secured three consecutive podium finishes as he claimed third-place at the Grands Prix in Canada, Great Britain and Austria.
And following his decision to wear a mask at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Hamilton insisted it was a “personal choice” and that he wants to try and keep people safe.
“I noticed a lot of people around me are getting sick and I definitely don’t want to get sick again,” he said. “I’ve already experienced it twice. But just I notice a lot of people around me, a lot of my friends messaging me that they’ve got Covid and some of them are much worse than others.
“No one’s wearing a mask so I’m definitely wearing my mask. I urge people to do what they want to do. It’s your health at the end of the day – but I want to go home healthy. I want to be able to get up and train and do the things I love doing. I try, if I can, to keep the people that I love around me also safe when I can, when I’m around them.”
Hamilton was forced to miss the penultimate Grand Prix of the 2020 season in Sakhir after contracting COVID-19. And following the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix last August, the veteran admitted he was still feeling the effects of the condition.
“I had real big dizziness and everything got a bit blurry on the podium,” Hamilton explained in the post-race press conference after finishing second to Esteban Ocon at the Hungaroring track. “I’ve been fighting all year with staying healthy after what happened at the end of last year. It’s a battle.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone particularly about it, but I think it is lingering. I remember the effects of when I had it and training’s been different since then. The levels of fatigue you get is different and it’s a real challenge, as I said, so I’m just continuing to try and train and prepare the best way I can.”
Hamilton missed out on a record eighth F1 title last year after Max Verstappen won the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi to claim silverware. And the Briton is likely to come up short once again this year as he’s currently sixth in the Drivers’ Championship standings – 99 points behind last year’s champion, who leads the way.