Daniel Ricciardo’s return to the Formula One starting grid may still be some way off as the Australian driver recovers from a broken hand, the Australian’s AlphaTauri team said on Friday.
The 34-year-old has missed four races, including Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, but there has been talk of him returning in Qatar next month.
AlphaTauri’s chief race engineer Jonathan Eddolls told reporters that there was no hurry to get him back, however, with New Zealander Liam Lawson serving as a stand-in.
“We all saw him (Ricciardo) in Singapore. He’s still going through that recovery phase. I’d say we’re still talking a while away,” he said.
“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. And I think from our side and his side, there’s no rush to get him back too early.
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“The worst thing would be to come back before it’s properly healed and cause any issues.”
There are five races after Qatar, all in the Americas before the final round in Abu Dhabi.
Eddolls said the simulator work would provide a good fitness test.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Later on Friday, AlphaTauri said that Ricciardo as well as Yuki Tsunoda would continue to race for the team in 2024.
“I’m stoked to be driving with Yuki again next year and continuing the journey with Scuderia AlphaTauri,” Ricciardo said in a press release.
“Following the progress we have already made and the plans for the future, it’s an exciting time for the Team. We are building and it is a great feeling... Bring on 2024!”
Tsunoda said he was looking forward to “continuing to fight and collaborate with the team and Daniel.”
“I’ll push as much as possible for the rest of the season and beyond, to progress as a driver,” he said.
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