Lewis Hamilton has revealed he experienced significant weight loss and is still suffering residual lung issues after being hit by the effects of Covid-19.
The world champion, who missed the last race in Sakhir, returned to Abu Dhabi this weekend for Mercedes but admitted to being “not 100 per cent” after qualifying third.
He said: “I still have some feeling within my lungs. Normally I would drive even if one of my arms were hanging off, that’s what we do as racing drivers. Luckily that’s not the case.
“I lost a good amount of weight in that week so I’m not 100 per cent the same as the last time I raced, but it’s by no means going to get in the way of me going out and giving it my all tomorrow.
“I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I said already in Australia how serious the virus is. I can really feel for those who have suffered from it, those who have lost ones from it, and I can understand how because it is a nasty virus.”
Hamilton was replaced by Mercedes protégé George Russell last weekend, who pushed team-mate Valterri Bottas hard and was in contention to take victory before a late-race slow puncture put an end to his charge.
Team principal Toto Wolff said missing the weekend was hard for Hamilton the champion was eager to return for the season finale, with his participation only confirmed on Thursday evening.
Having won his record-equalling seventh world title this year, Hamilton is desperate to end the season on a high but he added: “It’s overall [lack of] energy. One of the symptoms is that it really drains you.
“I’ve been sleeping as much as I can but recharging is not that easy as it perhaps normally has been in the past. It won’t be the easiest of races physically, but I will manage and give it everything I’ve got.”