Aston Martin admit Vettel could miss 2022 Saudi Arabian GP

Sebastian Vettel missed the season-opening 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19.

Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack has admitted that Sebastian Vettel might not be available for the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend.

After Daniel Ricciardo tested positive for COVID-19 and missed the entirety of the pre-season test in Bahrain, Vettel returned a positive result, ruling him out of the first race of the season.

Nico Hulkenberg stepped in for his 179th race start, and his third since becoming a reserve driver for the Aston Martin team in 2020 when they were known as Racing Point.

READ: Hulkenberg to replace COVID-struck Vettel at Bahrain GP

Krack confirmed that the four-time world champion had partaken remotely in the post-race debrief, and that he appeared in a slightly better condition

“He was participating in the debrief, he was sounding less rough than he was sounding a couple of days ago. But we do not know,” he said.

Saudi Arabian law states that anyone is eligible to travel from Bahrain to the country as long as they have registered their vaccine status and are test negative for coronavirus, so it can be inferred that, provided the 34-year-old is negative, he can travel to Saudi Arabia on Thursday once his isolation period in Bahrain is over.

“We will see how he goes for the next days. We hope he will be back soon,” added Krack.

“[It’s] a bit of both, but to be honest I am not 100 percent aware of the Saudi regulations.

Article continues below

“If he has a negative test, it will be easy. Better to get it now than in two weeks’ time.”

Hulkenberg revealed that he will make himself available to the Silverstone team again this weekend should they require his services.

“No, not yet. I don’t know,” he said when asked if he knows whether he will be needed.

“I’m just going anyway on standby and as a reserve, and I guess we’ll find out on Thursday or Friday.”

The German ended the race in Sakhir in 17th having impressively out-qualified team-mate Lance Stroll on Saturday, and he detailed the difficulties he had during the race.

“It was difficult, very difficult, in combat mode. The beginning was okay. But I was just hanging on, it was tough for me,” he explained.

“Once you’re out of that mode of just running with new, fresh tyres and know the limitations become more, you have to manage and understand the car a lot more. So that was difficult.”

Ultimately, an unavailing move into Turn One exacerbated his evening, and he was unable to recover from there.

READ: Perez reveals if he’s worried about engine reliability heading into Saudi Arabian GP

“[It was a] big learning experience today. So we went OK, I think then I tried to overtake someone, outbraked myself a bit into Turn 1. And from there onwards, it was kind of a downward spiral,” he lamented.

“I got lapped quite soon, and you just fall back and back more and more. But, yeah, it was what it was.”

The race in Jeddah will be the second held there in F1’s history, with Sir Lewis Hamilton claiming victory after a controversial collision with Max Verstappen in 2021.