Ricciardo back in the driver’s seat for upcoming Formula One season
Daniel Ricciardo says the wrist he broke at the Dutch Grand Prix won't be a problem next season. Photo: AAP
Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda have been confirmed as AlphaTauri’s driver partnership for next season.
Former Red Bull and McLaren driver Ricciardo returned to Formula One in July, replacing the axed Nyck de Vries in the second AlphaTauri, but suffered a broken hand in a heavy crash in just his second race back during practice at Zandvoort.
That presented an opportunity to New Zealander Liam Lawson, who impressed hugely in the rain in Zandvoort before picking up two points for the team last time out in Singapore.
But the 21-year-old has not done enough to earn a drive with the Red Bull sister team next season and will instead reprise his role as reserve driver.
“I’m stoked to be driving with Yuki again next year and continuing the journey with Scuderia AlphaTauri,” said Ricciardo ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.
“Following the progress we have already made and the plans for the future, it’s an exciting time for the team.
‘A lot to look forward to’
“We are building and it is a great feeling. There is a lot of work to do, but we are heading in the right direction and there is a lot to look forward to. Bring on 2024!”
AlphaTauri’s chief race engineer Jonathan Eddolls told reporters there was no hurry to get Ricciardo back.
“We all saw him in Singapore. He’s still going through that recovery phase. I’d say we’re still talking a while away,” he said.
“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.”
There are five races after Qatar, all in the Americas before the final round in Abu Dhabi.
Eddolls said the simulator work would provide a good fitness test.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Lawson’s future in Formula One is the subject of great interest.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner did not rule out the possibility of loaning Lawson to another team, with American Logan Sargeant’s place at Williams rumoured to be under threat.
Tsunoda joked on Thursday the team needed three seats next season, such was the battle to secure a drive between the three drivers.
The 23-year-old made his Formula One debut with the team at the start of the 2021 season and achieved his best finish of fourth in the final race of that campaign.
In a difficult season for AlphaTauri, Tsunoda picked up just three points and sits 17th in the standings ahead of his home race at Suzuka.