Daniel Ricciardo is set to miss out on another race with reports suggesting the Australian driver will be sidelined for this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix.
Ricciardo, 34, has had to watch from afar since suffering several fractures to his left hand following a bad crash in practice at the Dutch Grand Prix in August.
The former Red Bull star underwent surgery on the injury and AlphaTauri have been cautious not to rush him back until he is fully healed.
In his absence, young Kiwi racer Liam Lawson has deputised admirably, outperforming Japanese star Yuki Tsunoda across his four races on the big stage, while he also outqualified Max Verstappen at the Singapore Grand Prix.
AlphaTauri have stuck with Ricciardo and Tsunoda for the 2024 season, despite Lawson’s strong performances, but the New Zealander will likely have another go behind the wheel in Qatar.
Daniel Ricciardo will reportedly miss the Qatar Grand Prix in yet another blow
The Australian driver has been sidelined since suffering several fractures in Zandvoort
‘Hearing it’ll be one more weekend of Liam Lawson at AlphaTauri in Qatar,’ Chris Medland of F1 outlet Racer reported.
‘Sim session went well for Daniel Ricciardo but not yet at 100% and trying FP1 and finding it’s a bit too soon would have really hurt Lawson on a Sprint weekend.’
Ricciardo has now missed races in the Netherlands, Italy, Singapore, Japan and Qatar, but is targeting a return at the United States Grand Prix later this month.
At the Japanese Grand Prix, AlphaTauri’s chief engineer Jonathan Eddolls said they would ensure that Ricciardo is in the best possible condition before allowing him to get in the car again.
‘Well, we all saw him in Singapore,’ he said. ‘He’s still going through that recovery phase. I would say we’re still talking a while away, so I wouldn’t want to put a target on it. The recovery is going well.
‘We’ve got some simulator work planned before a return. I think from our side and his side there’s no rush to get him back too early. The worst thing would be to come back before it’s properly healed and cause any issues.’
Kiwi driver Liam Lawson has deputised impressively for AlphaTauri in Ricciardo’s absence
He added that Ricciardo’s simulator sessions will serve as a fitness test for the former Red Bull man.
‘He’ll jump in, the simulator is a very good representation of the car, all of the loads, Eddolls said.
‘I think the final decision is more than likely going to come from him rather than from us. He will know better than anyone, how’s the pain, how’s the recovery, so as I said, we’re not putting him under pressure to come back.
‘We’ve got a pool of three good drivers at the moment, so there’s no big rush. The focus is on him making a full recovery so that when he comes back, it’s not a point that’s even talked about.’