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Daniel Ricciardo’s return has historic implications

Daniel Ricciardo is set to return for the 2022 Formula 1 season opener after missing testing in Bahrain, a more significant development that it seems.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo missed last week’s three-day preseason test Bahrain International Circuit, the final on-track time for Formula 1 teams and drivers ahead of the season-opening race weekend at the track this weekend, after feeling unwell and then eventually testing positive for COVID-19.

But McLaren have confirmed that the 32-year-old Australian is set to return in time for the upcoming race weekend, beginning on Friday with practice and culminating with Sunday’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Naturally, Ricciardo missing testing time around the 15-turn, 3.363-mile (5.412-kilometer) road course in Sakhir, Bahrain isn’t ideal to say the least, especially as he and teammate Lando Norris will have to overcome what have proven to be pretty significant front braking issues in the MCL36.

However, his return could perhaps be more significant from a historical standpoint.

Ricciardo made his Formula 1 debut in the 2011 British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit, and he hasn’t missed a race since. As a result, he enters the 23-race 2022 season on a streak of 210 Grand Prix starts.

Only one other streak in Formula 1 history ever reached that point, and that streak belonged to seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

But the Mercedes driver saw his streak come to an end in 2020, when he missed the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain after testing positive for COVID-19 himself.

Before missing that race, Hamilton had never missed a race since making his Formula 1 debut in the 2007 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit. His streak ended at 265 races.

In the 2021 season, Ricciardo passed Nico Rosberg, whose 206 career starts all came in a row, for second place on the all-time list.

The longest active starts streak aside from Ricciardo’s belongs to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who has not missed a race since making his debut in the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.

Verstappen has competed in 141 straight races, one more than Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas. Bottas’s only missed start since his 2013 debut came in Verstappen’s debut.

Should Verstappen and Bottas run the entire 23-race 2022 schedule, they should move up to ninth and 10th place on the all-time list at 164 and 163, respectively.

If Ricciardo does so, he would see his total increase to 233, putting him on pace to surpass Hamilton’s record at some point in the 2024 season.

The 2022 season is scheduled to get underway this Sunday, March 20 with the Bahrain Grand Prix, which is set to be broadcast live on ESPN from Bahrain International Circuit beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET. If you haven’t started your free trial of FuboTV, this is a great time to do so!

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