Daniel Ricciardo will be able to race in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix after missing the entire test in Sakhir having tested positive for COVID-19.
The Australian was part of the united messages from Formula 1 drivers against the war Russia has started on Ukraine on Wednesday evening, but fell ill that night and was thus forced to sit out the first day, with team-mate Lando Norris taking the wheel.
He then returned a positive test on Friday morning, ruling him out of the entire second test and leaving Norris to complete the three days.
The Briton put 199 laps into a slightly struggling McLaren car with brake issues hampering running, and he set the ninth fastest lap time of the week.
The 32-year-old was grateful for his team-mate’s efforts, and confirmed that he was already on the mend.
“Better this week than next,” he tweeted.
“Unfortunate to mis the test, but I’m starting to feel better. I’ll stay isolated and just focus on next weekend.
“Big thanks to Lando and McLaren for the heavy lifting, I owe you some beers (milk for Lando).
“Appreciate the well wishes from everyone.”
This sparked a conversation as to who could well replace the 32-year-old had he been unable to contest the opening round of the season, and the names of Formula E champion Nyck de Vries, his Mercedes EQ teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, and Alpine reserve Oscar Piastri were thrown into the mix.
Despite being part of the Alpine academy, the Enstone outfit are happy for Piastri to act as a reserve driver for McLaren in order to obtain some invaluable experience.
“In the spirit of offering maximum racing opportunities to our stable of young talent, we have agreed that McLaren may call upon BWT Alpine F1 Team Reserve Driver Oscar Piastri in the event one of their drivers is unable to race,” they confirmed.
Having ascertained that the isolation period following a positive COVID-19 test in Bahrain is one week and not 14 days as was feared, McLaren confirmed on Wednesday morning that Ricciardo has tested negative and, provided he is feeling well enough, should be good to go this weekend.
“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,” they said in a statement.
“Daniel has been feeling better each day as he continued to recover while in isolation following local regulations in Bahrain.”
The former Red Bull and Renault driver is entering his second season with McLaren this year after claiming the team’s first win since 2012 at last year’s Italian Grand Prix in Monza.