Ricciardo ‘thankful’ to avoid same fate as Vettel
Daniel Ricciardo says COVID-19 “hit me for six” – but is “thankful” he avoided the same fate as Sebastian Vettel.
The duo who were team-mates at Red Bull in 2014 have become the first drivers affected by the coronavirus this year.
Ricciardo had to miss all three days of official testing in Bahrain when the illness he was suffering from turned out to be COVID, his positive test being announced by the McLaren team on the Friday night.
But the Australian shook off his symptoms and returned negative tests in time to return to the paddock for the start of free practice at the opening race weekend of the season, the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Drive the #BahrainGP circuit with @DanielRicciardo. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/4PXFQxhjat
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) March 18, 2022
Vettel, however, will not be lining up for Sunday’s curtain-raiser. He too has tested positive for COVID, as revealed by Aston Martin on Thursday, and therefore is being replaced for this race by reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg.
Admitting he had felt a bit like a cricket ball smashed over the boundary by Marnus Labuschagne or another of his country’s top batsmen, Ricciardo expressed sympathy for Vettel’s plight and was grateful for the timing of his own isolation in comparison.
“I’m all right now. It definitely hit me for six for a few days, but I feel okay now,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz on Friday morning. “Obviously see how I am in the car but no signs to give me any sort of panic or hesitance.
“I’ll always look at glass half full and better last week than this.
“Obviously I feel for Seb. When I missed testing I was like ‘man, this is tough’ but to miss a race, that would definitely hurt.
“So let’s say very thankful that I feel recovered and can compete this weekend.”
With this year’s cars all being brand new and only six days of track time – intended to be divided equally between a team’s two drivers – to get used to them before the opening race weekend, Ricciardo may well be very undercooked in terms of match practice.
But he is looking on the bright side, while acknowledging he could still be somewhat ring rusty in the MCL36.
“For sure the cars are different and there’s a lot to learn, but I still think I’ll be okay,” added the 32-year-old.
“Will I be driving the perfect lap? Who knows, but I think I’ll be there or thereabouts to what I’m capable of.”
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