Daniel Ricciardo is still a “while away” from returning to racing as he continues to recover from a broken hand, says AlphaTauri.
Red Bull junior driver Liam Lawson has stood in for Ricciardo at all four rounds and claimed the team’s best result of the season last weekend in Singapore.
Lawson is driving for the team again at Suzuka this weekend. The next round at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit in two weeks time was previously mooted as a potential date for Ricciardo’s return for stop
Asked how Ricciardo’s recovery was ongoing, AlphaTauri’s head of trackside engineering, Jonathan Eddolls, admitted that the 34-year-old driver still requires time.
“We all saw him in Singapore,” Eddolls said. “He’s still going through that recovery phase.
“I’d say we’re still talking a while away, so I wouldn’t want to put a target on it. The recovery is going well.
“We’ve got some simulator work planned before a return and 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.”
Ricciardo was brought in by Red Bull to replace Nyck de Vries after the opening ten rounds of the season. Despite only competing in the Hungarian and Belgian Grands Prix before his injury, Ricciardo’s experience was valuable to a team used to running younger drivers, Eddolls said.
“Pretty much straight away you could feel the quality of the feedback,” Eddolls explained. “Not only about the feedback on the handling of the car.
“Obviously he’s got a wealth of experience and has driven many different cars and experienced many different ends of the performance spectrum. So having that feedback on our car was extremely valuable for us.
“But also I think the other things that were were impressive and remind us of what experience can bring were how he could understand the race, the feedback that he could give live, how he thought the tyres were behaving. Was it a one-stop or a two-stop? Or if there was a Safety Car, could he reheat these tyres or would we need to fit a fresh set.
“So lots of the time we’re making those decisions from the pit wall based on data, but when it’s not clear cut, having someone with that experience can really, really make a difference.”
Ricciardo’s timeline for returning to the cockpit will be led by the driver, Eddolls insisted.
“He’ll jump in the simulators, a very good representation of the car or the loads, et cetera,” he said. “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’s the pain, how’s the recovery? So as I said, 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 making a full recovery so that when he comes back, it’s not a point that’s even talked about.”
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