Kimi Raikkonen has been ruled out of the rest of Formula 1’s Dutch Grand Prix weekend after he tested positive for COVID-19 and will be replaced by Robert Kubica at Alfa Romeo.
Ahead of F1’s return to Zandvoort, Raikkonen announced he’d retire from F1 at the end of the 2021 season.
He was due to see out the season with the Alfa Romeo team that he joined in 2019 after exiting his second stint with Ferrari, but he’ll miss this weekend’s race after the team confirmed on Saturday morning that he’d tested positive for COVID-19.
Alfa Romeo says Raikkonen “is displaying no symptoms and is in good spirits. He has immediately entered isolation in his hotel.”
Raikkonen is the fourth F1 driver to test positive during an F1 season, following Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.
It is too early to determine whether Raikkonen will now miss Alfa Romeo’s home race at Monza next week as well.
According to government guidelines, he may only need to isolate for three days if he shows no symptoms – but would then need a negative test result to return to the F1 paddock.
“First we check on Monday,” Alfa team boss Frederic Vasseur told SkySportsF1. “He has to do a negative test first and we check with the local authorities in Italy, but we are staying focused on this weekend first and then we’ll see for Monza what we can do.”
Raikkonen’s positive test also has ramifications for Alfa’s nearest rivals Williams with team boss Jost Capito isolating as a precaution after dining with Raikkonen on Friday night.
“Jost Capito will not enter the F1 paddock for the remainder of the Dutch GP,” the statement said.
“Jost met with Kimi yesterday but in a socially distanced manner and while he is therefore not a close contact and has been retested with a negative result, Jost and Williams have taken the decision as a precautionary measure to mitigate any potential risk to the team.”
Alfa’s test and reserve driver Kubica will stand in for the 2007 world champion, and will make his first F1 start since he competed in the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for Williams – the final race of his comeback season after a rallying accident in 2011 curtailed his F1 career.
Kubica has experience with the 2021 Alfa Romeo, having participated in three first practice sessions earlier this year in Spain, Styria and Hungary and completed the car’s shakedown at the start of the year.
Kubica made his F1 debut with the Sauber-run outfit in 2006 when it was owned by BMW, and he won the 2008 Canadian GP as part of an unlikely title bid.
Last month, Kubica – along with ex-Haas F1 test driver Louis Deletraz and former Renault junior Yifei Ye – was cruelly denied an LMP2 win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by last-lap drama.