Ricciardo F1 return this year now uncertain

Having been sacked by McLaren in 2022 with a year to run on his contract, Daniel Ricciardo returned home to Red Bull Racing in the hope the friction between Verstappen and Perez would open a door for the Australian to return to the Formula One grid.

The Australian’s hopes were somewhat realised though it was AlphaTauri’s Nyck De Vries who he replaced with 12 races remaining. The Formula E world champion had been tasked by Helmut Marko with becoming the junior Bull team leader despite Yuki Tsunoda entering his third season with the team.



Ricciardo chose wrong option

An internal management dispute at Red Bull saw De Vries summarily dismissed and in a flash Daniel Ricciardo was back behind the wheel of an F1 car – all be it the under performing AlphaTauri car.

The Aussie was looking good to take the lead driver role within the Faenza based F1 outfit when in practice two he was blindsided in Zandvoort as he arrived upon the stricken Oscar Piastri in the middle of turn.

Presented with the option of hitting the McLaren car or the tech pro barrier to the right, in a split second Riccairdo opted incorrectly for the latter. 

Had he alternatively just T-boned Piastri’s car, the damage to himself would have been inconsequential but probably greater to the car. It may be damaging the AlphaTauri by hitting Piastri may have damaged less Ricciardo’s F1 career than the future now suggest. 

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“no chance for Singapore” says Horner

Yet unfortunately by choosing the barrier along the right hand side of his car, the sideways impact snapped the steering wheel viciously to the right with Ricciardo suffering a broken left hand.

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll broke his wrist in a cycling accident just 12 days before the first race of this year and despite missing pre-season testing he was fit to drive the car at the 2023 opening event in Bahrain.

However, it appears Ricciardo’s injury’s are worse than Lance Stroll, given the comments of Christian Horner late last evening.

“I think certainly for Singapore, I don’t think there’s any chance he’ll be ready for then. It would be optimistic for Japan but his recovery is going well. He’s got mobility of the hand and is into rehabilitation now.

“We’ve seen with motorcyclists rushing comebacks they can sometimes do more damage. So we just want to make sure he’s fully fit before we get back in the car,” Horner concluded.

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Ricciardo unatural extended recovery time

The length of time Horner is now suggesting Ricciardo’s recovery may last is somewhat surprising as for a non-athlete the prognosis from NHS.form is as follows.

“After a metacarpal fracture of the hand, most of the healing happens between 3 to 4 weeks. It’s normal to have aches and discomfort beyond this. This often happens when you try activities you haven’t done for a while. It’s also normal for the area to be more sensitive for several months after the injury.”

A Formula One driver would dismiss the “aches and discomfort” so long as he was not making matters worse with the break and so Ricciardo should be recovered for the race in Singapore.

Yet the Red Bull team boss casts doubt on Ricciardo’s return even a week later in Japan suggesting even a Suzuka return is “optimistic.”

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Liam Lawson impresses Red Bull

Ricciardo’s replacement Liam Lawson has impressed the Red Bull hierarchy and on debut in Zandvoort he beat his team mate Tsunoda despite having just one reactive session before qualifying.

Disappointingly Tsunoda’s car failed on the way to the grid in Monza causing a 20 minute delay to the start of the race. So Liam Lawson was the sole AlphaTauri competitor making a further comparison to his team mate’s performance impossible.

Lawson came home 11th in the Italian Grand Prix and was unfortunate not to score a point for the team. The young New Zealand driver should feel hard done by as AlphaTauri bizarrely chose to give him a two stop strategy with most others just stopping once.

Finishing just five seconds behind Valterri Bottas in eleventh it is simple to argue Liam would have made the points had he been on the same strategy was the drivers ahead of him.

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Lawson to drive in Japan

Lawson is currently competing in Super Formula in Japan where the cars are more similar to F1 machines than in F2. He has led the championship and is a favourite to win the title as the season finale double header in Suzuka looms at the end of October.

Of course being chosen to compete for the F1 weekend at the same circuit just the weekend before Super Formula concludes would offer Lawson a significant advantage over his Japanese based competitors.

Christian Horner touched on how Lawson was hoping to drive the AlphaTauri F1 car at the Japanese Grand Prix as a precursor to his Super Formula finale.

“I should think he’s pretty keen to be in the car in Suzuka. We’ll just take it on a day-by-day basis and see how the recovery [of Daniel] and nature takes its course,” revealed the Red Bull boss.

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Ricciardo F1 future now uncertain

So Ricciardo’s opportunity to impress the Red Bull management he is worthy of a seat along side Max Verstappen for 2024 has taken a big hit, given he may now have just six more races before the season ends following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lawson on the other hand is now a shoe in to drive for Alpha Tauri next season. The big question is whether the team will retain Japanese drover Yuki Tsunoda who would be starting his fourth season with the team.

The big news in Monza was there is now significant doubt Zhou Guanyu will be racing for Alfa Romeo next year. 

Aston Martin’s reserve driver Felipe Drugovitch who won the F2 series in 2022 is almost certain to be on the grid for 2024 and Guiedo van de Garde reported in nItaly talks are under way with the Swiss based team to recruit the Brazilian young driver.

Valterri Bottas has a contract with Alfa Romeo for 2024 and so the only space would be if Zhou is replaced.

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2 responses to “Ricciardo F1 return this year now uncertain

  1. Certainly until the Japanese GP & in an extreme scenario, not at all within the remaining season, although in either case, I’d rather have Lawson compete in all remaining events bar the Mexico City GP (unless he voluntarily gives up his SF championship chance), where Ricciardo could effectively substitute for him.
    However, avoiding the T-boning option was definitely a right move, given the considerable car damage to not only AlphaTauri, but also Mclaren & even an injury chance for Piastri, as single-seater monocoques are pretty vulnerable in T-bone collisions.
    Finally, once again, a contradictory statement because Zhou said in at least one interview on Thursday (for Finnish TV) that he’s very close to signing, i.e., all but confirmed his continuation, meaning that announcement is due over the next few weeks.
    Otherwise, only Pourchaire would replace him since he’s a clear-cut priority as a Sauber Academy driver & is leading the F2 championship.
    If they were interested in Drugovich, they would’ve already hired him before, but no team was despite his F2 championship.

  2. Pingback: Ricciardo F1 return this year now uncertain - Formula Bull·

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