McLaren have confirmed Daniel Ricciardo has now returned a “number of negative tests” and will “return to the paddock” ahead of the F1 season opener in Bahrain. Ricciardo missed last week’s pre-season test session after testing positive, leaving driving duties to team-mate Lando Norris, as fears that he could miss the first race of the season grew.
However, McLaren have now confirmed he is fit to race this weekend. A statement said: “McLaren F1 Team confirms that after testing positive for COVID-19 during 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.”
Ricciardo felt unwell on the eve of the test session in Bahrain last Wednesday.
His positive coronavirus test was reported on Thursday, putting him in a week’s isolation.
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Despite a strong Barcelona test, things looked slightly less rosy for the team in Bahrain. Lando Norris suffered braking issues and overheating concerns which cost the team running across all three days.
They managed just 199 laps, the second-fewest of all 10 teams on the grid, Norris’ fastest lap time was also a whole one-and-a-half seconds slower than the pacesetting Red Bulls. After the session, Norris said the team’s preparation has been “less than ideal”.
He added: “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. [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.”