Encouragement for Daniel Ricciardo in the midst of his latest hiatus from racing

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo holds his broken metacarpal.

AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo clutches his broken hand after crashing in practice at Zandvoort.

Facing yet another hiatus, this time an unwanted one, there’s good news for Daniel Ricciardo as Simon Rennie says he was almost immediately driving like he’d never been away after his last lay-off.

Having returned to the Formula 1 grid at the Hungarian Grand Prix, replacing Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, Ricciardo’s comeback was curtailed two races later when he broke his hand at Zandvoort.

The Aussie crashed nose-first into the Turn 3 barrier at the Zandvoort circuit but, making that split-second decision not to hit the stricken McLaren of Oscar Piastri, he didn’t have time to remove his hands from the steering wheel.

Daniel Ricciardo is facing a month-long injury lay-off

The wheel came back and hit his hand, leaving Ricciardo with a broken metacarpal that required surgery.

While initially it was suggested he could be back in the car at the Singapore Grand Prix, the Aussie only missing two races, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says it’s more likely to be Japan.

“I think it will be optimistic for Japan,” he told the media including PlanetF1.com. “But I think his recovery is going well.

“He’s got mobility of the hand, he’s into rehabilitation now, but we’ve seen with motorcyclists, rushing comebacks can sometimes do more damage. So we just want to make sure he’s fully fit before he gets back in the car.

“I should think he’s pretty keen to be in the car in Suzuka.”

Ricciardo, though, needn’t worry that his month out of the car will have a negative effect on his racing with his former Red Bull race engineer revealing he was back on it almost immediately when he climbed into the RB19 for his Pirelli tyre test back in July. And that was his first on-track outing in more than eight months.

“You couldn’t really tell that he hadn’t been in a car for eight months,” he said to Ricciardo in the latest Talking Bull podcast.

“The first run, maybe in the installation laps you were reminded how quick the cars were, but after that, within a few laps, it was just like you’d driven a car last week, not last year.

“I don’t know if you were surprised about that but I was quietly impressed.”

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But while the Red Bull test confirmed to Horner and Helmut Marko that Ricciardo still had what it takes to be a Formula 1 driver, for the Aussie it was confirmation that he still wants this life.

“It’s been slowly brewing this year my desire to get back on the grid, and like all these things that internal kind of motivation has come back and I think the sim, doing well on that, was already a bit of a spark,” he said. “I was definitely getting the feeling back.

“So I think getting in the car was kind of the last box I needed to tick to make sure that I not only could still do it but still enjoyed doing it. And I had a blast.

“I felt like I got up to speed relatively quickly and everything I really wanted to get out of the test I did.”

He says the excitement and haste of Red Bull’s decision to put him in the AT04 in Hungary reminded him of the first time Marko ever called him to let him know he was going to race in Formula 1.

“So then it was, ‘Alright mate you’re going to race soon, in less than two weeks’ time with AlphaTauri’,” he continued.

“So, that stuff also excites me. Like that’s just Red Bull, that’s how they operate. It reminds me of how it was when I was a junior driver and in my first-ever F1 race.

“I got a call from Helmut a week before the race and even that I wasn’t expecting it to be with HRT, but that’s how it is and it certainly makes you feel game and ready and alive so pretty stoked.”

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