Christian Horner believes that it was right for Daniel Ricciardo to miss last weekend’s backbreaking Qatar Grand Prix, with the Aussie opting to extend his recovery period.
Ricciardo is expected to return to racing next week in Austin with AlphaTauri after a nearly two-month hiatus caused by his crash last August in practice at the Dutch Grand Prix in which he suffered a fractured metacarpal in his left hand.
The injury required surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation period which is still ongoing. However, ahead of last weekend’s race at Lusail, Ricciardo underwent several hours of training in Red Bull’s simulator in Milton Keynes.
However, it was decided that his physical conditions would be better served if he remained off the grid for one more race, with AlphaTauri substitute Liam Lawson filling in one last time in Qatar.
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“We want to see him in full fitness,” Horner said. “I think it was right to miss the race, particularly as it turned out with the conditions that we had, it could have been very testing for him.
“So I think to have had that extra, if you like, 12 days, in the run-up to Austin is the best preparation for him.
“With Austin, it’s obviously going to be difficult for him to jump straight back into a sprint race weekend but I’m sure he’ll be physically in good shape to take that on.”
Ricciardo was all the more willing to take his time to return to active duty as his seat with AlphaTauri alongside Yuki Tsunoda for 2024 was confirmed by the team in Japan.
“Of course, he [Ricciardo] wanted to come back,” Horner added. “But he has a contract secured for next year.
“In Liam, we’ve such a great sub, and it was also a good way of giving him another grand prix without putting unnecessary pressure on Dan and potentially causing longer-term damage.
“It allowed us to say ‘Look, don’t overstretch it’.”
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