Sebastian Vettel out of Formula One season opener in Bahrain with coronavirus

Nico Hulkenberg to replace former world champion at Aston Martin

Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel will miss Formula One's opening round in Bahrain after testing positive for Covid-19. PA
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Sebastian Vettel will be unavailable for the opening race of the 2022 Formula One season in Bahrain after testing positive for coronavirus. Aston Martin made the announcement on Thursday and added that he will be replaced by Nico Hulkenberg.

Former world champion Vettel became the second F1 driver to contract the virus in recent weeks. Daniel Ricciardo missed the final test in Bahrain due to coronavirus but will be fit to race for McLaren.

"Sebastian Vettel has tested positive for Covid-19 and will not therefore be taking part in the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix," a statement from Aston Martin read.

"Replacing him in the AMR22 will be Aston Martin Formula One Team reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg, who will be in the car from FP1 onwards."

Hulkenberg lost his seat in F1 at the end of the 2019 season, but he competed in 2020 as a replacement. Hulkenberg, 34, made three appearances as a replacement for Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, who both missed races with coronavirus. F1 has made it compulsory for all drivers and team personnel to be vaccinated this year.

Earlier, rivals Alpine had offered McLaren their Australian reserve driver Oscar Piastri as a stand-in should Ricciardo have been unable to race. Practice for the opening race at Sakhir is on Friday and Ricciardo will go into it without having driven the car since Barcelona on February 24.

Updated: March 17, 2022, 10:21 AM