Ricciardo F1 return in doubt for Qatar, Lawson set for more races

Daniel Ricciardo's projected return at the Qatar Grand Prix looks in doubt as the AlphaTauri Formula 1 driver continues his recovery from a broken hand.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri

The Australian has missed the last three grands prix following his FP2 crash at Zandvoort, and will not partake in this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix as Liam Lawson continues to deputise.

It was suggested that Ricciardo may be in line to race at the returning Qatar round, but the resumption of his 2023 F1 comeback looks set to be pushed back to allow further time to recuperate from his accident.

AlphaTauri head of trackside engineering Jonathan Eddolls explained that the team has a simulator programme planned for Ricciardo to assess the mobility and any lingering effects of the crash in his hand.

He added that the team will not force the Australian to return prematurely, and that it may be "a while away" before Ricciardo is back in an F1 seat.

"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.

"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.

"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.

Daniel Ricciardo, Scuderia AlphaTauri in the paddock with Mark Webber

Daniel Ricciardo, Scuderia AlphaTauri in the paddock with Mark Webber

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

"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.

Eddolls added that Lawson may be set for "more races" at the team in Ricciardo's stead, and that he had impressed the team with his "solid" start to his F1 career amid a last-minute call-up at Zandvoort.

Lawson bagged his first points last time out in Singapore, after finishing ninth behind Red Bull's Sergio Perez.

"He's got up to speed very, very quickly. Yuki has still got the edge on him, which is totally to be expected with the experience. But I think the fact that he's got into Q3, he scored points very early in a car that's not the most competitive, and at times difficult to drive.

"I think from what we see compared to some of our previous drivers, he's up there and he's got the potential.

"I think we're all excited for more races working with him in the meantime, while we wait for Daniel to recover."

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