Despite an earlier denial from team principal Andreas Seidl, McLaren have confirmed Daniel Ricciardo is suffering from COVID-19.
Ricciardo has missed the first two days of official pre-season testing in Bahrain and that will now become all three, for he is having to self-isolate.
But the good news for the Australian is that if his recovery goes to plan, he should be able to race at next weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
A statement from the team read: “McLaren Racing can confirm that after feeling unwell from Wednesday onwards in Bahrain, Daniel Ricciardo has now returned a positive PCR test for Covid-19.
“Daniel is therefore continuing to isolate in accordance with local regulations.
“Under these regulations, Daniel will be released in time for next weekend’s Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Daniel is already beginning to feel better and we wish him well for a quick recovery.
“Following this, we can confirm Lando Norris will remain in the MCL36 for the final day of the official pre-season test in Bahrain tomorrow.”
Ricciardo added to that with a tweet of his own, without specifically referring to the coronavirus.
“Better this week than next,” began the 32-year-old. “Unfortunate to miss the test, but I’m starting to feel better. I’ll stay isolated and just focus on next weekend.
“Big thanks to Lando & McLaren for the heavy lifting. I owe you some beers (milk for Lando).
“Appreciate the well wishes from everyone.”
Better this week than next…
Unfortunate to miss the test, but I’m starting to feel better. I’ll stay isolated and just focus on next weekend.
Big thanks to Lando & McLaren for the heavy lifting, I owe you some beers (milk for Lando).
Appreciate the well wishes from everyone.
— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) March 11, 2022
A few hours earlier, during an interview with Formula 1, Seidl had rejected any suggestion that Ricciardo was suffering from the coronavirus.
“Daniel felt unwell yesterday morning, he had a bad night. That’s why he couldn’t drive yesterday,” said the German.
“He’s actually feeling better today, but we’ve taken the cautious approach. Hopefully he will be back in the car tomorrow.
“Obviously we did all the checks and our team doctor is looking after him. But all the checks we did regarding COVID have been negative, thankfully.”
Fortunately for Ricciardo, it looks as though he will avoid the same fate as Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton, all of whom had to miss at least one race during the 2020 season having contracted COVID.
Former Haas driver Nikita Mazepin was alone in having to sit out a 2021 grand prix for the same reason, doing so in Abu Dhabi.
Norris and Charles Leclerc (twice) have also tested positive but outside of the Formula 1 season.