Daniel Ricciardo reveals ‘blessing and curse’ of MotoGP-inspired hand surgery

Thomas Maher
Daniel Ricciardo in the AlphaTauri garage at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo has opened up on the recovery process following his hand injury he suffered this year.

Daniel Ricciardo has opened up on his recovery and rehabilitation from suffering a hand injury at the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix.

The Australian driver suffered a broken metacarpal in his left hand when he crashed his AlphaTauri in practice at Zandvoort, taking avoiding action to ensure he didn’t hit Oscar Piastri’s McLaren as it blocked the racing line.

Ricciardo had to miss several races, having just returned to an F1 cockpit after replacing the ousted Nyck de Vries at the Red Bull sister team.

Daniel Ricciardo: It looked like an elephant stood on my hand!

Reflecting on the incident and the aftermath as he spoke to Tom Clarkson on the Beyond The Grid podcast, Ricciardo revealed how he had been taken to Dr. Xavier Mir – the well-known MotoGP doctor based in Spain, who had operated on Lance Stroll’s wrist injuries in early 2023.

“From the Medical Centre, we went to the hospital there in Amsterdam, got scans, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, it’s broken’,” Ricciardo said as he began the story.

“By this point, it looks like an elephant stepped on my hand. The doctor there said, ‘Look, I would recommend surgery. You can have it here, but you probably want to wait a few days for the swelling to go down, speak to whoever you need to speak to, and obviously you can have your surgery wherever you want.’

“We reached out to Lance. We reached out to José, a friend of ours who works with Alpine, so he knows all the MotoGP guys, and he’s Spanish as well.

“He put us in touch with Xavier Mir. Lance was like, ‘Go to him’ as well.

“It was a blessing and a curse because he does a lot of MotoGP guys, who are not human. They are not. It’s a fact. I think there’s an expectation of me going in there. He’s like, ‘Oh, F1, MotoGP, they’re the same – not human, don’t feel pain.’

“No doctor, I feel pain. I’m going to cry for the next 48 hours in this hospital! It was just funny!

“I think all the doctors and nurses who were helping me were great, but they would laugh a lot because I would wince and pull away and ask questions about every needle that went into my arm.

“I think they just thought I would be tough like a MotoGP rider. But I’m not.”

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Despite the injury being relatively inconsequential in the greater scheme of things, Ricciardo revealed he had been in a lot of pain as he suffered through it.

“The break itself was quite significant and it was a shatter. It was in eight pieces,” he said.

“For a bone that can be quite a simple one, it wasn’t too pretty. It’s like the outside of the hand. The bone I broke was in between the wrist and the pinky, like that knuckle.

“Even just rubbing my finger over the top of my hand hurt like crazy. Maybe I just feel pain more than others. I don’t know.

“There was also the reality where, yes, I would moan and complain because I don’t like the pain, but it was a broken hand.

“There was also part of me which was like, ‘yes, you’re in pain and it’s going to be a bit of a process, but people have worse injuries. People have bigger accidents’.

“Don’t get me wrong, I also tried to reality check myself through it all. I think that’s what made me remain quite positive.”

With Ricciardo having to watch on as Liam Lawson deputised in his place, impressing to the point where the Kiwi became a linked possibility for a full-time seat in 2024, the Australian said Red Bull had been very understanding of his need to take time out and recover – as well as giving him the nod for the race seat for next season.

“I was doing physio every day and I was doing what I could to come back as soon as possible,” Ricciardo said.

“But Red Bull and AlphaTauri were really good with this, as I wasn’t fighting for a world championship.

“It’s not like you need to just drive through immense pain and just get a point, because your title is on the line.

“It was, ‘Let’s make sure you heal properly and get the right treatment because also you’ve got, hopefully, a second part of your career, which is going to be long and glorious.

“Don’t compromise anything that you then have a bung hand for the next two years of your career, three years, whatever.’”

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