Daniel Ricciardo to complete simulator test as he targets F1 return

Daniel Ricciardo is hoping to return at the Qatar GP, although Christian Horner views this as unlikely due to his injury.

Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that he’ll complete a simulator session “early next week” to judge if he’s ready to return to racing yet, following his crash at the Dutch Grand Prix which resulted in surgery.

The fan favourite fractured the metacarpal in his left hand following a nasty crash during Free Practice 2 at Zandvoort, resulting in a trip to Barcelona for surgery.

Whilst the operation was a success, Ricciardo is still seemingly not close to getting back into his AT04, which has been driven since his accident by Red Bull reserve Liam Lawson.

Red Bull and AlphaTauri are very keen for Ricciardo to not make a “hasty return”, and to instead wait until his hand has fully healed.

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Given that he’s got a contract with the Red Bull sister team for 2024, the Australian is in a position where he can wait until he’s completely ready.

Lawson is widely expected to replace him next weekend at the Qatar Grand Prix, although the 34-year-old has revealed that his recovery is “coming along”, putting him into a position where a simulator session can be attempted.

“That’s kind of my first test really to see where I’m at and simply make a call from there,” Ricciardo told Perth Now.

“I definitely want to be out there in… call it the next few weeks, that’s the plan. Probably early next week I should know.”

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With the Super Formula finale not taking place until the same weekend as the Mexican Grand Prix, Ricciardo could sit out Qatar and his beloved United States Grand Prix, before returning in Mexico where Lawson will be unavailable.

Even Red Bull team principal Christian Horner thinks it’s unlikely that Ricciardo will be seen driving at the Losail International Circuit next weekend, with the Red Bull boss thinking the US GP is a more realistic target.

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However, Horner has acknowledged that Ricciardo is pushing to return in Qatar, something which will be discussed after completing a simulator session.

“His recuperation is going well but he’s fixed in the seat for next year, does he need to rush a hasty return for Qatar where maybe another couple of weeks for Austin, which is a hell of a bumpy circuit anyway, it might be better to use that time in preparation for Austin,” Horner told Sky Sports.

“I know he’s got his sights fixed on Qatar, he’ll drive the simulator next week and then we’ll make some decisions based on that.”