Sebastian Vettel has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss this weekend's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix as a result. Aston Martin's reserve driver, Nico Hulkenberg, will replace him for the event, stepping into the car from FP1 onwards. This will mark Hulkenberg's fourth stand-in appearance for the team, with the German having previously substituted in their former guise as Racing Point on three occasions during the 2020 season. Hulkenberg first stepped in for Sergio Perez in back-to-back races at Silverstone due to the Mexican testing positive for COVID-19, and then filled in for Lance Stroll later that year at the Eifel Grand Prix, when the Canadian was also suffering from coronavirus.
Vettel misses Bahrain GP while Ricciardo returns
News of Vettel's positive COVID-19 test comes after Daniel Ricciardo tested positive last week, forcing the Australian to sit out all three days of pre-season testing in Bahrain. McLaren have since confirmed that Ricciardo has been cleared to take part in this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, following some initial minor concerns that he wouldn't sufficiently recover in time for the race. Given that the second event of the season, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, is due to take place just one week after the Bahrain opener, this could cast doubt over whether Vettel will be able to compete at Jeddah. It is likely that the four-time World Champion would be able to travel, though, if he tests negative in the days following the Bahrain Grand Prix.