Daniel Ricciardo has revealed he was in a “bit of panic” after he returned an inconclusive COVID-19 test following September’s Tuscan Grand Prix.
Ricciardo returned the inconclusive test after the race in Mugello, where he finished fourth before a subsequent negative result allayed his anxiety.
The Formula 1 paddock has already seen three drivers test positive for the virus, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton missing last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
Racing Point team-mates Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll contracted the virus earlier in the season, with Sakhir winner Perez missing the Silverstone double-header.
Ricciardo told media in Abu Dhabi that he was surprised by his inconclusive result, considering he had become “more disciplined with isolating” following the Perez news.
“I did wake up one morning with a false-positive, so I had a scare at 6:00 am one morning,” the 31-year-old said.
“It wasn’t a false positive, (it was) inconclusive. Still scared me though.
“Then trying to figure out, okay we’ve got to get tested again, and there was a bit of panic and that wasn’t fun.
“Obviously, I was fine in the end but that obviously was something I hadn’t gone through before and then you start playing games in your head like, ‘Do I feel a little’, and, ‘Maybe I do have it and just’… but that was a bit of panic one morning.
“As the season went on I became more and more disciplined with isolating or just taking care of myself, especially after Checo (Perez) got it and I was like, ‘Okay, so this isn’t a joke’.
“I was being very careful so I was quite surprised (by the inconclusive result). Obviously, in the end, I didn’t have it, but I was scratching my head.”
This weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marks Ricciardo’s final race in Renault colours, with the Australian shifting to McLaren in 2021.
However, Ricciardo is focused on cutting the 13-point deficit to Perez to claim fourth in the driver’s standings at a circuit he has never reached the podium.
“It’s time for the last race of the year in Abu Dhabi. It’s a track I’ve always really enjoyed, and it’s one of the first places I drove a Formula 1 car, so the circuit holds some early memories of the sport for me,” he said.
“The track is a fun one, but it’s quite difficult to overtake so qualifying will be important. It’s very different to where we just were on the outer circuit in Bahrain, but we come here on a high following the result last weekend.
“It’s also my last race with the team and I want to end it on a high and leave knowing we gave everything to the very end.
“Fourth and third in the drivers’ and constructors’ championship is still up for grabs so there is a lot still to play for.
“We’ll look to put one more strong one together and close out the year and my time at Renault in style.”
Free Practice 1 for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will commence at 2000 AEDT on Friday.