The Marussia Formula 1 racing team has admitted losing an entire day’s race testing in Bahrain last week after the computer systems used for in-car telemetry were disrupted by Trojan malware.

The UK-based Russian-sponsored team didn’t specify which Trojan caused the problems nor why it caused such a headache but the fact it was even mentioned suggests that the incident was significant.

"It started off with the first disaster, which was a computer Trojan-type virus in the racks, which cost us the best part of the day," team principal John Booth told the motoring magazine Autosport. "That set the tone for the week.”

The team reportedly completed only 29 laps in the entire four days, the least of any team. Most of that was completed on day two when 17 laps were completed. The Trojan hit on day three which turned it into a write-off.

F1 cars now depend on complex telemetry that collects data from a variety of engine systems in real time and is even used to optimise where pit crew stand during tyre changes. Once F1 was a sport for hardcore petrol heads but these days the computer engineer is probably more important.

The F1 season opens in Australia 16 March before returning to Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit for a night-time race on 6 April.

Perhaps the most famous unlikely places malware has turned up include the International Space Station worm attack of 2008, and in 2011 the USAF’s Nevada Creech Air Force Base on the networks used to co-ordinate global drone strikes. The latter incident was later blamed on a gaming keylogger.