Three drivers have emerged at the top of the list to potentially replace the unwell Daniel Ricciardo in Sunday’s 2022 season opener.
The Australian missed the entirety of the final pre-season test in Bahrain, taking place just a week before the opening race of the year at the same circuit.
Ricciardo, 32, ultimately tested positive for covid, and is now following local protocol by remaining in isolation while McLaren sources report that he has been notably unwell but is starting to recover.
“Under these regulations, Daniel will be released in time for next weekend’s grand prix,” the team told us.
First, however, he will need to test negative for covid-19. If he doesn’t, Lando Norris will have a substitute teammate for the Bahrain GP.
“That is where our agreement with Mercedes comes into play,” said team boss Andreas Seidl.
“Either Nyck de Vries or Stoffel Vandoorne would sit in the car,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.
However, it is reported that McLaren also made an enquiry to Alpine about potentially releasing the French team’s reserve Oscar Piastri – who, like Ricciardo, is Australian.
“They wouldn’t even have to change the flag on the car,” joked team boss Otmar Szafnauer.
“It would be great if Oscar could gain some experience like that if McLaren needs him, but he’s our reserve driver first and foremost,” he added.