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Raikkonen out of Dutch GP after testing positive for COVID-19

ZANDVOORT: Alfa Romeo’s Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen steers his car at the Zandvoort circuit during the first free practice session of the Netherlands’ Formula One Grand Prix in Zandvoort on Friday. – AFP

ZANDVOORT: Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss today’s Dutch Grand Prix, his Alfa Romeo team and the race organizers announced yesterday. The 2007 world champion Raikkonen, 41, who is retiring from Formula One at the end of the season, was replaced in Zandvoort by Alfa Romeo’s reserve driver Robert Kubica.

“Kimi is displaying no symptoms and is in good spirits. He has immediately entered isolation in his hotel. The team wishes Kimi a speedy recovery,” the Alfa Romeo team tweeted. “The team ran a thorough close contacts check and do not expect any further impact to our operations for the rest of the weekend.”

Championship organizers and the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said that Raikkonen’s positive test “will not have a wider impact on the Dutch GP”. Williams team manager Jost Capito will not return to the paddock this weekend, however, after having dinner with Raikkonen on Friday evening.

Williams said it was a “precautionary” measure, adding that the meeting was made “while respecting social distancing”, that Capito is not considered a “contact case” and that he has since tested negative. Polish driver Kubica, 36, won the Canadian Grand Prix in 2008 but his career was severely hampered following a crash during the Andorra Rally in 2011 in which his right forearm was partially severed.

“Robert has been reserve driver… since the start of the 2020 season and has driven the team’s C41 in three practice sessions this year,” Alfa Romeo said. “With 97 Formula One starts to his name and experience with 2021 Formula One machinery, he will be ready for action and to give his best for the team.”

With Raikkonen needing a negative test before being allowed to return to the paddock, his participation in next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza is also in doubt. Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll all missed GPs last year because they had COVID-19 while Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc tested positive during the winter break. – AFP


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