Liam Lawson’s three-race audition could be bad news for Daniel Ricciardo

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo broke his hand as he crasheds at the banked Turn 3 at Zandvoort.

Daniel Ricciardo crashes hard in FP2 at Zandvoort.

As AlphaTauri confirm Liam Lawson as Daniel Ricciardo’s long-term sub while he recovers from a hand injury, it has been suggested this is the Aussie’s worst scenario come true.

Despite declaring last December he wanted to sit out this season in its entirety, Ricciardo was back on the grid at the Hungarian Grand Prix with Red Bull loaning him to AlphaTauri to replace the ousted Nyck de Vries.

He had a solid return, P13 in Hungary, before a back-of-the-grid start in Belgium, the driver penalised for exceeding track limits in qualifying, hampered his progress at Spa.

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Nevertheless, he was raring to go after the summer break with Ricciardo P13 in the opening practice hour for the Dutch Grand Prix. And then disaster struck.

On the track behind Oscar Piastri in FP2, Ricciardo had a split-second choice to make when he came screaming up to the crashed McLaren to hit “either” Piastri or the wall.

He chose the latter but didn’t have enough time to remove his hands from the steering wheel and broke a metacarpal in his left hand, the break severe enough to require surgery with Ricciardo facing a three-race lay-off from Zandvoort, Monza, and maybe also Singapore.

AlphaTauri have already confirmed Lawson, P13 on his F1 debut, will substitute for the Aussie until he’s ready to get back into the car.

“Until [Daniel] is fully fit, we can confirm that Liam, who did a good job in difficult circumstances in Zandvoort, will continue to drive alongside Yuki, starting from our home race this weekend in Monza,” the team said in a statement on Monday.

It is, FoxSports claims, not what Ricciardo wanted to hear.

According to respected F1 journalist Michael Lamonato, Ricciardo was only “convinced to abandon his plan for a full year off in favour of a mid-year AlphaTauri induction because the team would otherwise have subbed in Lawson.” recommends

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And that, he writes, “could have locked the Aussie out of the driver market for good.”

As such Ricciardo returned to stake his claim but now Lawson has the opportunity to do just that in his potential three auditions, and already it’s a case of so far, so good, with a P13 on debut despite not being in the car on the Friday.

Next time out at Monza he’ll have the chance to do a full race weekend, practice sessions included, while Singapore would give him a final chance to show Red Bull what he can do.

It could yet see him leapfrog Ricciardo for the 2024 AlphaTauri drive.

That means unless Yuki Tsunoda is dropped, or steps up to Sergio Perez’s Red Bull seat, Ricciardo could be left out in the cold.

“It’s up to Lawson how delicately poised the decision-making will be at the end of the season,” Lamonato concludes.

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