Thu. Jan 21st, 2021

The seven-time world champion missed last weekend’s race in Bahrain after testing positive for the virus but has returned in time for the season finale.

On Saturday, Hamilton qualified in third position for the race, behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. But he says he’s still not “100% fit.”

“I still have some feeling within my lungs,” he said, per Reuters. “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.

“It definitely won’t be the easiest of races physically,” he said, “but I will manage and give it absolutely everything I’ve got.”

‘Recharging is not as easy’

Mercedes confirmed Hamilton tested negative for the virus on Wednesday after spending 10 days in isolation.

The 35-year-old says he’s been trying to sleep as much as possible but continues to feel drained of energy.

“Recharging is not as easy as it perhaps normally has been in the past,” he said. “I lost a good amount of weight just in that week, so as I said not 100% […] but it’s by no means going to get in the way of me going out and giving my all tomorrow.”

Hamilton has won 11 out of the 16 races in another title-winning season but promised to “give it my all” in the last race of the year.

“I wasn’t sure I’d be here this weekend. I focused on healing my body as fast as I could and feel so grateful to have made it. I knew I wouldn’t be 100%,” he wrote on Instagram.

“Naturally, recovery will take longer from Covid but still I enjoyed the battle in the car. @maxverstappen1 did a great job, as did @valtteribottas, and it’s great to see McLaren so close. I will give it my all tomorrow to try and finish off strong,” he said.

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