McLaren have received a major boost ahead of the 2022 Formula 1 campaign as driver Daniel Ricciardo returned a negative COVID test.
Ricciardo’s pre-season has been disrupted by COVID, forcing him to isolate and miss all three rounds of testing in Bahrain.
In far from ideal preparation for McLaren, teammate Lando Norris stepped in for testing duties and delivered the ninth-fastest time.
There were fears the constructor would have to call on Alpine’s reserve Oscar Piastri as a stand-in, but Ricciardo has now been given the all-clear to compete in the curtain-raiser on Sunday.
“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,” read a statement from McLaren.
“Daniel has been feeling better each day as he continued to recover while in isolation following local regulations in Bahrain.”
Ricciardo delivered McLaren’s only 2021 victory at the Italian Grand Prix, having improved after a slow start to the season.
The charismatic Aussie will hope to overcome his pre-season difficulties to make a faster start in Bahrain this weekend.
Speaking ahead of the event, Ricciardo said: “I’m glad to be back, feeling better and ready for the Bahrain Grand Prix and season ahead.
“I was disappointed to not be in the car last week but despite being unwell, I’ve been able to keep in touch with the team, chat to Lando about the car and prepare as best as I can for the race weekend.
“I want to maximise the Free Practice sessions to better understand the car and fine tune everything ready for qualifying and lights out on Sunday.
“It’s hard to know where we’ll be on the grid but it’s going to be competitive and I’m hungry to get back in the car and go racing.
“Heading into my second year with team, I feel more confident and comfortable than ever.
“I’m determined to build on last year’s performance and use everything the team and I learned from the highs and lows to make this season one of our best.
“A new iteration of cars is something I’m no stranger to and comes with a lot of excitement. I’m looking forward to the battles out on track with these new cars, particularly at Bahrain with its overtaking opportunities. Let’s get some great results for the team!”
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