Sebastian Vettel will return to Aston Martin for the next Formula 1 race in Australia after missing the first two rounds of the season due to COVID-19.

Four-time F1 world champion Vettel tested positive in the days leading up to the Bahrain season opener, ruling him out of the race weekend and prompting Aston Martin to draft in Nico Hulkenberg as his replacement.

Vettel failed to return a negative test in time for him to take part in the second race of the year in Saudi Arabia, with Hulkenberg deputising once again.

But Aston Martin has now announced that Vettel will return for the Australian Grand Prix next weekend after being declared fit.

It will mark the start of Vettel's season and give the German driver the chance to turn Aston Martin's on-track fortunes around after a difficult start to the year.

Aston Martin is one of just two teams yet to score any points this season, recording a best finish of 12th and 13th with Hulkenberg and Lance Stroll in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to in Jeddah, Hulkenberg explained that he would likely be within reach of Australia if he was required to deputise again, but was not expecting to be needed.

"We'll talk about it," Hulkenberg said. "I might go in closer proximity to Australia, so that I'm kind of on standby, and if there is a situation then I'm at least not in Europe, but a bit closer."

Hulkenberg had joked after the race in Saudi Arabia that he was pleased with a "clean" and "faultless" race given he is "the old rusty guy", having not raced full-time since 2019.

"The last 10 days were very unexpected, very eventful, busy, very intense, but I enjoyed them," Hulkenberg said. "I think in a few years' time, I'll look back to this with happy memories."

Vettel's return will come in the first Australian Grand Prix since 2019 after the 2020 and 2021 races were called off due to COVID-19.

The 2020 event was cancelled just hours before the scheduled start of practice after a positive COVID-19 case was found in the F1 paddock.

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