24 March 2022

Sebastian Vettel facing race against time to be fit for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

24 March 2022

Sebastian Vettel is facing a race against time to be fit for Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion’s Aston Martin team confirmed he has yet to return a negative Covid-19 test after he was ruled out of Formula One’s opener in Bahrain last weekend with the virus.

Nico Hulkenberg, who deputised for the 34-year-old Vettel in Bahrain, is on standby.

Aston Martin will take their final decision before first practice in Jeddah on Friday.

A statement from the British team read: “Sebastian Vettel has not yet returned the required negative COVID test to fly to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“Nico Hulkenberg will be in Jeddah to deputise for Seb if necessary.

“We will delay our final decision until Friday to provide Seb every opportunity to race.”

Nico Hulkenberg is on standby to replace Sebastian Vettel (Hassan Ammar/AP) (AP)

Although mandatory testing has been scrapped by Formula One, teams are continuing with the process.

F1 has made it compulsory for all team personnel to be vaccinated this year.

But drivers will still be banned from the paddock if they return a positive test in a country where isolation is not required. It is understood this is unlikely to change in the immediate future.

In Vettel’s absence, Aston Martin endured a poor start to the new campaign. Lance Stroll finished 12th with Hulkenberg 17th and last.

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