Mercedes has drafted in George Russell to replace World Champion Lewis Hamilton at this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix while Jack Aitken will race for Williams.
Hamilton, already assured of the 2020 world title, claimed a fifth straight win in Bahrain but developed mild Covid-19 symptoms on Monday.
He took two tests – one of which was the standard pre-event test – and both were returned positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus.
It means that Hamilton will have to sit out a Formula 1 race weekend for the first time in his 14-season career.
Mercedes has turned to long-term protégé Russell as the alternative for Hamilton.
Russell has been backed by Mercedes since his time in junior formula, winning back-to-back titles in GP3 and Formula 2, and stepped up to Williams on a three-year deal in 2019.
The Briton, 22, has tested Mercedes’ Formula 1 machinery on several occasions, most recently at last year’s end-of-season running in Abu Dhabi.
“Our long-term partnership and George’s affiliation with Mercedes is no secret, and so I’m delighted George has this unique opportunity to join Mercedes, the current Constructors’ Champions,” said acting Williams boss Simon Roberts.
“We have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to allow him this fantastic opportunity. George very much remains a Williams driver and we look forward to him returning to us fresh from this experience and wish him a successful race this weekend.”
Russell’s temporary switch to Mercedes clears a space at Williams that has been filled by Aitken.
Aitken ended a lengthy spell as a Renault test driver to join Williams for 2020 and had an outing in the FW43 during practice in Austria.