MotoGP is set to stage its longest-ever calendar this season, as the addition of the returning Indonesian and Finnish Grands Prix – last hosted in 1997 and 1981 respectively – brings the number of races to 21.
This is despite the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020 still being designated as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, although travelling has become slightly easier for the paddock, which completed pre-season testing in Malaysia and Indonesia in February.
During the Mandalika test in Indonesia last weekend, a number of paddock personnel tested positive for COVID-19, with some ending up stuck in isolation in the country.
While the entire MotoGP grid has had the vaccine (including Johann Zarco, who has previously expressed scepticism to the jab), but the emergence of the Omicron variant has driven re-infections worldwide – albeit with those who are fully vaccinated experiencing less severe symptoms or none at all.
Miller caught COVID while at home in Australia last month, forcing Ducati to postpone its official 2022 launch event, and admits the virus is still likely “to plague this year”.
“Nobody’s life is easy at this stage, in the world,” Miller said in Indonesia.
“I literally came in from a race simulation [on the final day], took my leathers off, took my leathers to the company because my assistant tested positive.
“It’s a nightmare. We have all been to the same places, to the hotel and track – that’s it.
Jack Miller, Ducati Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“We haven’t broken protocol, we haven’t done anything we shouldn’t have, especially him. He’s been quite quiet, he didn’t come to the beach or do much.
“It’s just the way of the world. As you know, I caught COVID on my farm, I don’t go anywhere, I don’t do anything and somehow I managed to catch it there.
“I think it’s going to plague the year. And it’s kind of scary as a rider, because if you’re going to have to miss a race due to that it’s not going to be nice.
“It makes us nervous, but it is what it is. It’s good to have the championship moving and we just have to try and stay as safe as possible – now more than ever.”
Reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo revealed in Indonesia that he’s had COVID before and says he is “crossing the fingers” to avoid catching it again during the coming season.
“I had it already a long time ago but I know you can catch it again,” he said.
“But this, you can catch it everywhere. It’s something we can’t control.”