No special dispensation for Hamilton to take part in season finale - FIA
Lewis Hamilton faces numerous hurdles ahead of a potential comeback from Covid-19 at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The seven-time champion missed out on competing in the wildly entertaining Sakhir GP after contracting the virus following his win in the first race of the Middle Eastern triple-header at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The self-isolation period for Hamilton is set to expire on Thursday, a day ahead of free practice for the race at the Yas Marina circuit, but with the Mercedes driver still needing to return multiple negative tests ahead of re-entry to the paddock.
Criteria for travel between Bahrain and Abu Dhabi for F1 personnel is the strictest of the season, with all involved needing to travel on a series of chartered flights into the UAE, with special permission given to F1 to bypass the country's 14-day isolation period for arrivals.
If Hamilton does not test negative before these flights, then complications will arise whilst organising new travel arrangements, with the Briton requiring an allowance from UAE officials to allow him to travel privately.
Just to leave Bahrain, Hamilton has to test negative prior to travelling, meaning his tests would have to be conducted and returned negative ahead of the expiration of his isolation period.
When asked if Hamilton could be given any special dispensation to return with the potential of rules being changed, FIA race director Michael Masi explained the protocols put in place by motorsport's governing body were secondary to each country's own criteria.
"It is not so much a rule change from an FIA regulatory perspective," he said.
"The main part, through all of this, has always been complying with the respective government's laws and regulations.
"So it is very much a decision for the Bahraini health authorities to determine if Lewis is fit and complies with their regulations, then further, for the Abu Dhabi authorities to determine their criteria.
"So it is effectively, two government entities that need to determine the entry criteria.
"If he meets the entry criteria of the two governments and further complies with the testing protocol from an FIA perspective, to test negative prior to entering the paddock, then there are no problems from our perspective."
With the closeness of the schedule at the end of such a disrupted season, Hamilton faces a race against time to prepare for this weekend's race, even if he is passed fit.
If he does travel privately to the UAE, Hamilton would need to self-isolate for a 24-hour period. With his projected timeframe and existing 10-day isolation period, this would rule him out of Friday's practice sessions.
Pointing to Nico Hulkenberg's stand-in drive at the Nürburgring, however, Masi explained it would still be possible for Hamilton to compete during the weekend even without attending Friday practice.
"There is actually no rule change necessary," added Masi. "So realistically, within the current framework of regulations - what was used at Nürburgring - as long as a driver participates in a practice session or qualifying, they are permitted to race.
"So technically, here and now, a driver only has to meet one of those criteria. They couldn't just turn up and race. They would have to do one of the practice sessions - free practice or qualifying practice - beforehand."
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