Daniel Ricciardo speaks out on F1 comeback

Daniel Ricciardo last featured on the grid in FP2 at the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix, where he sustained an injury.

After missing five races through injury after fracturing a metacarpal in his left hand at the Dutch Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo is returning to action this weekend at the United States Grand Prix.

With Ricciardo being a fan favourite at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), he’s chosen a good venue to return in terms of the amount of support he’ll receive.

The circuit itself though, will be a massive challenge for the 34-year-old, given the constant change of direction through the first sector in particular.

Riccardo has been replaced by Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson since his painful accident during Free Practice 2 at Zandvoort, as he needed to undergo surgery.

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Complications with his fracture were discovered, which has led to him being out for so long.

Given that the Dutch GP was only his third event back in the sport since replacing Nyck de Vries, the timing of his accident was shocking.

After spending time in the simulator though, he’s now ready to return, with his hand being “much better”.

Ricciardo was contemplating returning at the Qatar Grand Prix but he admits that it was too soon.

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“It’s good to be back,” Ricciardo said, as reported by GPFans.com. “My hand is much better, and the simulator was a useful way of assessing it.

“I tried it out in the week before Qatar, but I didn’t feel it was at full potential, so I spent the rest of that week in the UK, spending more time in the sim, and got to a point where I felt ready to go.

“My overall fitness is fine as I kept training as much as I could, although I obviously couldn’t do much with my left hand or arm for a while.”

As mentioned, COTA is a tricky circuit even for the fittest for drivers, let alone one who hasn’t competed in the last five races and has undergone hand surgery.

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The bumpy surface will also be a challenge for Ricciardo, with him recognising that the venue “does beat you up”.

“I’ve always enjoyed Austin,” Ricciardo added. “It’s very unique for a modern-day circuit, and the undulations and bumps mean it’s physical. It does beat you up, but I think I like that. I like the challenge.

“A lot of the apexes are quite wide as well, so there are some peculiar corners which make the track exceptional and stand out.”