AlphaTauri won’t rush Daniel Ricciardo return amidst 2024 driver debate

Michelle Foster
AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo cradling his hand after crashing in FP2 at Zandvoort

Daniel Ricciardo broke his hand in FP2 for the Dutch GP.

AlphaTauri are in no rush to hurry Daniel Ricciardo’s comeback from injury, especially as they have a points-scoring stand-in in Liam Lawson.

That’s according to AlphaTauri’s head of trackside engineering Jonathan Eddolls.

Ricciardo, back on the grid with Red Bull’s junior team in what was billed as an audition for Sergio Perez’s Red Bull race seat, broke his hand in a practice crash at the Dutch Grand Prix.

AlphaTauri won’t rush Daniel Ricciardo return

Forced into a split-second decision, hit Oscar Piastri or the wall, he went with the latter but didn’t have enough time to remove his hands from the steering wheel, leaving him with a broken bone in his left hand.

He’s been out of action since, the injury requiring surgery, but he was back in the paddock in Singapore where he took on an “engineering” role as he helped AlphaTauri from the pit lane.

That Sunday his stand-in, Lawson, scored two points in what was only his third grand prix.

But while Ricciardo is not present in Japan, reportedly back in Australia undergoing physical therapy on his injured hand, there has been talk of him even being back in the car the next race in Qatar.

Eddolls couldn’t commit to that, saying AlphaTauri don’t want to rush his comeback.

“We all saw him in Singapore,” Eddolls said. “He’s still going through that recovery phase. We’re still talking a while away so I wouldn’t put a timeframe of it.”

“It’s going well,” he added.

“From our side and his side there’s no rush to get him back too early. Watch this space.”

Revealing Ricciardo will spend a bit of time in the simulator before AlphaTauri set a return date for the Aussie, Eddolls was asked if that could be billed as a ‘fitness test’ for the Aussie.

“He’ll jump in the sim as it’s a good representation of the car the loads,” he replied. “The final decision will come from him as he’ll know better than us how’s the pain, how’s the recovery.

“We’re not putting pressure on him, we have a pool of three drivers.”

He reiterated “no rush” for the Aussie.

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But it’s not just the date of Ricciardo’s return that Formula 1 fans want to know, the team also has yet to announce either of its two drivers for the 2024 season.

And they have an abundance of riches in choice with three drivers for two seats.

While earlier this month a rumour suggested it could be Ricciardo and Liam Lawson with Yuki Tsunoda dropped to a test driver role, it’s now being suggested it will be the Japanese driver and the Honey Badger with Lawson facing another year on the sidelines.

“Makes it a tough one but nothing is official yet on what’s going to happen next year,” Eddolls said of the team’s 2024 line-up.

“Probably there’ll be an announcement at some stage.”

Pressed on Lawson’s chances and his potential, he said: “From what we’ve seen so far he got in and he got up to speed quickly. Yuki has the edge with experience.

“But he’s qualified well, scored points in a car that’s not the most competitive and at times is difficult to drive.

“He’s up there, he’s not the potential.”

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was later asked about Lawson’s chances of bagging one of the two AlphaTauri seats.

He replied: “We’ve got a luxury problem, three into two. It’s a nice headache to have.

“He will be a grand prix driver, he is a grand prix driver, even if he has to wait for that. But he’s demonstrated he’s a talent for the future.”

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