Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Losail International Circuit, 2023

Hamilton admits ‘pulling a sickie’ to miss F1 test

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton has revealed he dislikes testing so much he has feigned illness to get out of his driving duties at least once in his Formula 1 career.

The Mercedes driver has never disguised how little he enjoys testing, which is far more restricted than it was in 2007 when he debuted in F1. Now, teams’ race drivers only tend to appear in F1’s official tests while test drivers are called upon for private test days and in some cases even shakedowns of new cars.

In a post-season debrief at Mercedes’ Brackley headquarters, Hamilton was joined by his team principal Toto Wolff and reserve driver Mick Schumacher but not his team mate George Russell, who was unwell. Wolff told the assembled crowd “George is really ill” and hadn’t pulled a “sickie” by pretending to be unwell when he wasn’t.

“I was wondering,” Hamilton admitted. “In the past I have done that to miss the test days, because I just generally don’t like test days.

“So yesterday when I heard that he was sick, I was like ‘ah, he’s one-upped me, he’s gone to another level.”

Although Hamilton revealed nothing further about his absence from a test, he has missed driving duties on past occasions when illness was given as the reason. In 2015 he missed a day of running at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain which the team said at the time was due to illness.

Mercedes called up their test driver Pascal Wehrlein to stand in for him. Hamilton returned to the cockpit successfully and won the world championship that year.

Hamilton also missed the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix after catching Covid-19. At that time F1 and international travel rules required him to isolate while testing positive for the illness, which ruled him out of racing in Bahrain. He returned at the next race one week later in Abu Dhabi. The following year Hamilton revealed he continued to suffer the symptoms of Covid.

In 2017 Hamilton moved to a plant-based diet which he has credited with improving his health and helping him to cope with the growing length of F1 seasons.

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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16 comments on “Hamilton admits ‘pulling a sickie’ to miss F1 test”

  1. Not a Ham fan, but I classify this as “no big deal” considering how long his career has spanned though I’m sure he’s referring to recent history.

    1. lol yes, one day 8 years ago :) But also, his plant based diet. Meanwhile George wasn’t throwing a sickie honest, whenever this event was

  2. Whether you like the guy or not, you can’t but admire what he possesses in terms driving abilities. It requires immense talent to skip a test and then immediately be on the pace in the next GP. Raikkonen, too, refrained from engaging in any simulator work, except during his second stint with Ferrari, and that didn’t seem to impact his racecraft.

    1. I assume you’re being sarcastic about Kimi.

      1. He specifically said except during his second stint with ferrari; raikkonen was pretty good before that.

    2. BTW, there’s a huge difference between testing/development running and practice. Missing a testing / development session doesn’t impact your speed, unless it’s pre-season testing and you’ve missed a significant portion.

    3. “It requires immense talent to skip a test and then immediately be on the pace in the next GP. ”
      Or maybe it just doesn’t.

      1. And Hamilton certainly then knows how to complain and cry to the engineers and blame them when there’s a problem…”man.”

    4. It requires immense talent to skip a test and then immediately be on the pace in the next GP.

      When in-season testing happened every week, teams had test drivers to do pretty well all the testing. The mentality of test driving is quite different to racing. A test driver isn’t trying different lines to try to improve his speed, but rather he might be trying to drive consistently but with different settings so that the team can best measure what differences are made by different parts or set ups. It can be repetitive. Go out, do three laps, come back in while the engineers talk amongst themselves and change something, do another three laps, repeat.

    5. Coventry Climax
      29th December 2023, 12:05

      Sure I admire the guys driving skills.
      But the part where you say it requires immense talent to immediately be on pace in the next event, is debateable, as it completely ignores the quality of the car being driven.
      Which is the exact argument people use when ‘assessing’ other drivers.

  3. Past and present tenses are all over the place in the summary and body of this article.

  4. weird, I find testing extremely exciting, more so from an inside operations POV.
    must be because I am not a racing driver, though

  5. That’s what test drivers are for, only test that matters is pre season testing.

    1. And this is mainly about preseason

  6. As long as you win them races and championships, you can get away with that kind of stuff no problem. Good on him.

  7. I don’t blame him for doing that, as testing, except for the pre-season ones, can get boring over time.

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