The Qatar Grand Prix has been mooted as a possible return event for the injured Daniel Ricciardo, and Christian Horner has commented on the likelihood.
Ricciardo has been out injured for the last couple of Grands Prix, having picked up a broken metatarsal in an awkward practice crash at Zandvoort while trying to avoid hitting Oscar Piastri’s stricken McLaren.
Having only just secured a return to the grid with AlphaTauri, completing two races before the injury, the Australian will definitely be on the grid in 2024 after being signed by Red Bull for their sister team, but when might he be back behind the wheel this season?
Christian Horner: Daniel Ricciardo’s recuperation is going well
Speaking to Sky Sports News after the Japanese Grand Prix, Red Bull boss Christian Horner was asked about the possibility of Ricciardo returning for the Qatar Grand Prix – the race that had been speculated as a possibility for Lawson to clamber out of the AT04 for the Australian.
“I’d say probably less likely than likely at the moment,” Horner admitted, before explaining that there simply is no need for Ricciardo to rush back unnecessarily.
“His recuperation is going well. But, you know, he’s fixed in the seat for next year, does he need to rush a hasty return for Qatar?
“Whereas maybe another couple of weeks for Austin, which is a hell of a bumpy circuit anyway, it might be better to use that time as preparation for Austin.
“I know he’s got his sights fixed on Qatar but he’ll drive the simulator next week and then we’ll make some decisions based on that.”
Christian Horner: Liam Lawson will be a candidate for a seat in 2025
Ricciardo’s return comes at the expense of Lawson, who will step back into a reserve and test driver role for next season.
Speculation has been rife that the Kiwi has accepted the role in exchange for a guaranteed race seat in 2025, with either AlphaTauri or Red Bull, but Horner said nothing has been promised.
“There’s no guarantee of anything in life,” he said.
“I think that he’s done a great job. He’s really impressed us. He’s done exactly what we could have asked for, in terms of grabbing the opportunity, and in Daniel’s absence to really show his capability and that’s turned some heads.
“It’s done him a lot of good and I think that we’ll keep developing him when he goes back into that test and reserve role and he’ll be a candidate, certainly for 2025.”