Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that the prolonged break to the start of the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season caused by the COVID-19 outbreak could provide an advantageous benefit of potentially extending his career in the sport.
The effects of the ongoing pandemic have been felt worldwide and F1 has also been made to face the consequences.
Despite plans to press ahead with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix back in March, the event was eventually cancelled at late notice following the news that several members of the McLaren F1 Team had tested positive for the virus.
Since then the opening ten rounds of the season were all subsequently called off, but F1 is finally gearing up for a return to racing with a double-header at the Red Bull Ring in Austria set to begin on the weekend of 3-5 July 2020.
Other than six days of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya during February, the Austrian Grand Prix will mark eight months since the drivers last competed in an official Grand Prix event at the 2019 season finale in Abu Dhabi.
However, the Renault F1 Team driver has welcomed the chance the break has provided to work on improving his physical condition ahead of a grueling European start to the season that will span eight races in just ten weeks.
“We’ve been able to really knuckle down and set up a real training programme that we never really get“, Ricciardo said speaking to BBC 5 Live. “You get it at the start of the season, but once you get back to Europe and the travelling starts, it’s so hard to get any routine and consistency.
“I think part of it is the training, and being able to have this amount to condition my body, and I think the icing on the cake of that as well has been we haven’t been jumping timezones, we haven’t been locked in pressurised cabins for three weeks per air up in the air.
“I think the benefit is going to be really nice, and because it’s so unique, I think it was really important to maximise this. Who knows, it might give me a bit more longevity in my career.”
Ricciardo – who has spent the majority of the last few months training in his native Australia – finally got back behind the wheel in the last week in Renault’s 2018 car around the Red Bull Ring in preparation for the heavily elongated start to the season.
The Australian will embark on his second and final season at the Enstone-based team in 2020 after already taking the decision to move to the McLaren F1 Team for next year.