Daniel Ricciardo says he had a scare caused by an inconclusive COVID-19 test result despite having increased how careful he was being to try and avoid the virus.
Formula 1 started its delayed 2020 season in July with a number of protocols in place to help guard against COVID-19, including regular testing and a code of conduct from the FIA. Ricciardo says the example of Sergio Perez becoming the first F1 driver to contract the virus — missing two races at Silverstone as a result — forced him to increase the precautions he was taking, but that didn’t stop him fearing he’d miss a race at one stage.
“I did wake up one morning with an inconclusive result, so I had a scare at like 6 a.m. one morning,” Ricciardo said. “Then trying to figure out, ‘OK we’ve got to get tested again’ and… There was a bit of panic. That wasn’t fun; obviously I was fine in the end but that was something I hadn’t gone through before.
“And then you start kind of like playing games in your head like, ‘Oh, do I feel a little… maybe I do have it…’ but that was just a bit of panic one morning.
“It was still in the summer, maybe after the Italian leg and before Russia. Actually as the season went on I became more and more disciplined with isolating and just taking care of myself. Especially after Checo got it and it was like, ‘OK, this isn’t a joke.’ I was being very careful, so I was quite surprised.
“It wasn’t a false positive, (it was) inconclusive. Still scared me though!”
Ahead of the final race of the 2020 season in Abu Dhabi this weekend, Ricciardo says the whole situation this year has given him a greater appreciation for a number of aspects of life away from racing.
“I think as a person it’s probably what I would say 99% of everyone has felt — some real appreciation of normal life, or life as we knew it previously. Appreciation for being able to go out. One thing I’ve missed tremendously was concerts, live music. Being in a venue and — it sounds gross now but having sweaty people all around you!
“And I guess the real freedom of travel. It’s something we’re all accustomed to — we travel the world and at some point it feels like a job but it’s such a nice freedom we have. These are certainly things I’ve missed and won’t take for granted in the future.”