Daniel Ricciardo tested positive for COVID-19 during F1 Testing in Bahrain. (Image: McLaren/Instagram)

McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo was unable to participate in Bahrain testing. The Australian tested positive for COVID-19 on day two, after feeling ill on day one of testing.

The final week of F1 pre-season testing has come and gone and it is now finally race week once again.

Daniel Ricciardo was absent for pre-season testing in Bahrain due to a positive COVID-19 test. (Image: F1/Instagram)

Unfortunately for one, Daniel Ricciardo was unable to participate in Bahrain testing. The Australian tested positive for COVID-19 on day two, after feeling ill on day one of testing.

This could prove to be vital, as Ricciardo did not adapt to life at McLaren as quickly as he would have liked.

The tale of 2021

In his first season with the papaya team, he was beaten overall by teammate Lando Norris, who continues to find a new gear.

Although at one point the scales began to tip Ricciardo’s way, after his Italian Grand Prix win, the Australian was sub-par compared to his teammate.

To summarise Ricciardo’s season, he was defeated 15 times by Norris in qualifying and equally 15 times in races, across 22 race weekends.

Lando Norris had quite the upper hand on Daniel Ricciardo in 2021. (Image: F1)

Norris also achieved a pole position, at the Russian Grand Prix, whereas Ricciardo’s best starting position was second, following the sprint race in Italy, which he went on to win.

Overall, the British youngster made his presence known at McLaren in 2021. Norris was 45 points clear of Ricciardo by season’s end, landing McLaren a fourth-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship.

Bahrain testing in a nutshell

The entire F1 grid shifted to Bahrain last week, the home of the 2022 curtain raiser. One week before lights out, all 10 teams had a weekend to tighten any loose bolts.

Day One

Formula 1 was back in business with all eyes fixed to Bahrain and the Sakhir Circuit as testing began last Thursday.  

Mercedes made themselves a real point of interest following the reveal of their ‘sidepod-less’ car, a significant difference to the testing in Barcelona just two weeks prior.

A red flag was temporarily raised following debris from Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin scattered across the track, This damaged the aero rakes attached to his car in the process.

Ferrari, meanwhile, appeared to be back to its very best in the morning session with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc going second and third fastest respectively, both on the C3 compound tire.

But Day One was highlighted by Pierre Gasly lighting up the time sheets with a 1.33.902, while also conjuring a staggering 102 laps on the day.

Pierre Gasly topped the time sheets on Day 1 of testing in Bahrain. (Image: F1)

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Day Two

The second day of pre-season testing in Bahrain saw the welcome return of former Haas driver Kevin Magnussen. Magnussen returns to the team for the 2022 season, replacing the outgoing Nikita Mazepin.

Nicholas Latifi had a rough morning, with the brakes of his Williams catching alight forcing a premature end to his day.

Estaban Ocon was highly prominent early on Day Two, rocking the new pink livery on his Alpine and setting the fastest time of the morning session. However his afternoon was less pleasant, bringing out the red flag after coming to a halt on the side of the track that afternoon.

Lando Norris and McLaren appear to have a problem and are in a ‘race against time’ to fix a front brake overheating issue which saw Norris overrun into turn one on numerous occasions.

It was Carlos Sainz in the Scuderia who set the fastest lap of the day under the Sakhir lights, with a 1.33.532, over four tenths faster than the best lap the previous day.

Carlos Sainz and Ferrari make a statement, one week out from the season opener. (Image: F1)

Day Three

Red Bull was expected to be emphatic on the final day of testing after new parts were delivered to the team. It did not disappoint, as Max Verstappen topped the time sheets early on, with a 1.31.720.

Mick Schumacher supported the speed of his new teammate Magnussen on Day Three, impressing all other teams and placed himself second at the time. Schumacher ultimately placed in eighth at the conclusion of the day.

Alfa Romeo showed promising signs with its new driver line-up of Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou, putting together 150 laps on the final day.

Ferrari has been touted as the likely winners of the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend, following the words of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. If correct, it would be Ferrari’s first win in F1 since 2019.

Reigning champion Max Verstappen marks his territory on the final day of testing. (Image: F1)

What does 2022 have in store?

Not only was Ricciardo behind in 2021, but this season is a whole new phase of Formula 1, with the introduction of many regulation changes.

Getting to grips with a completely new car cannot be easy. Yet, Ricciardo will have to do it the hard way, with only the testing completed in Spain under his belt.

Many questions hang in the balance for Ricciardo. Is he up to terms with the new car? Will he be fit to race in Bahrain, after recovering from COVID-19? Will he be able to keep up with Norris at McLaren in 2022?

Fitness wise, McLaren has opted for the safe route, signing Australian and reigning F2 champion Oscar Piastri as a reserve driver.

Piastri joins McLaren’s pool of reserve drivers, in a deal that McLaren similarly has with Mercedes. This allows Piastri, Stoffel Vandoorne or Nyck de Vries to participate if either Norris or Ricciardo are unable to. 

All will be answered in due course, but for now the testing is in the past, and all eyes are on Round 1, for the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.

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