After Daniel Ricciardo tested positive for COVID-19 before pre-season testing in Bahrain, it’s now been confirmed that he is testing negative and will be able to drive in the F1 opening race, the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The McLaren driver had to stay quarantined as the beginning of the 2022 season loomed, but fans will be happy to hear that after “a number of” negative COVID tests, the driver will be attending the race.
McLaren is hopeful that Ricciardo will be well enough to race, but in just in case, its reserve drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries, who it shares with Merdedes, as well as ex-Force India driver Paul di Resta and Alpine’s Oscar Piastri, will be waiting at the end of their phone lines despite at the moment not being needed.
A Statement from McLaren:
“McLaren F1 Team confirms that after testing positive for COVID-19 last week, Daniel has now returned a number of negative tests and will therefore return to the paddock on Thursday ready to compete in this weekend’s Bahrain GP.
“Daniel has been feeling better each day as he continued to recover while in isolation following local regulations in Bahrain.”
Of course, without the experience behind the wheel that every other driver has at Bahrain this year, Ricciardo may have a tough time, plus any other fading symptoms he still may have from his time with COVID. This is on top of a struggling car at Bahrain’s testing, with fellow teammate Lando Norris describing the testing as “less than ideal”.
“It’s not been the smoothest of tests for us. It’s been quite limited in Bahrain. I think Barcelona was a good one but here we’ve encountered quite a few more problems, which have limited the amount of laps we’ve done by quite a huge amount,” he told the press.
“[We’ve had problems] especially on the long runs – the lower-fuel and shorter runs we’ve been able to do – but not the high-fuel runs. We’re behind where we want to be, where we need to be, and where we can say we’re confident in any way going into the first race. It’s not great but we’re getting through as much as we can. We’re definitely making progress, but definitely not in the position we want to be in.”
Despite this, Norris is feeling optimistic that McLaren will be able to push through these issues:
“I think we are on top of it,” he said. “We know what the problems are, we know what we are suffering with, and so on. Coming up with the perfect fix is always the question of: ‘do we have that or not?’
“That’s what we’re unsure about until we get to next week and we put it all together. The team are working hard to understand the problems, obviously why they happened in the first place and why we encounter them, and then work on the fix for next week.
“But it’s not a simple fix; it’s quite a complicated area, it takes a lot of work, a lot of time to come up with these parts and so on and that’s why it’s the challenge to get it all here and in a good condition for next week.”