Daniel Ricciardo fans dealt massive injury blow

Daniel Ricciardo had been tipped to return at the Losail International Circuit next month following his injury.

AlphaTauri have admitted that Daniel Ricciardo returning to the grid at the Qatar Grand Prix next month is looking unlikely, with him still recovering from his hand surgery.

AlphaTauri head of trackside engineering Jonathan Eddolls revealed at the Japanese Grand Prix – where Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda are reportedly going to be confirmed for 2024 – that the team aren’t wanting to “rush” the Aussie’s recovery, to allow him to be “properly healed”.

Ricciardo required surgery on a metacarpal in his left hand following a weird crash during Free Practice 2 at the Dutch Grand Prix, where he failed to take his hand off the steering wheel as he crashed into a barrier.

As a result, his hand was smashed by the wheel, resulting in a complicated fracture.

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He flew to Barcelona for surgery but is yet to even carry out a test in the simulator, with a return to the AT04 in Qatar looking less than likely.

Given how well Liam Lawson has performed since replacing the 34-year-old, Ricciardo doesn’t necessarily need to rush back, especially if he’s agreed to continue with the team in 2024.

The last thing the eight-time race winner needs is to return too soon and cause further complications with his recovery, something the team are eager to avoid.

Eddolls explained that Ricciardo will attempt a simulator session ahead of F1’s return to Qatar to see how his hand feels, with a decision to then be made in regard to his participation at the Losail International Circuit.

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According to Eddolls, the simulator is a “good representation” of how Ricciardo will perform in the actual car.

“He’s still going through that recovery phase. We’re still talking a while away, so we wouldn’t want to put a target on it. The recovery is going well. We’ve got some simulator work planned before a return,” Eddolls explained, as reported by Motorsport.com.

“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. So watch this space.

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“The simulator is a very good representation of the car, all of the loads, et cetera. 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 is the pain and how is the recovery. 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.”