Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 Comeback At The United States Grand Prix Could Prove To Be Red Bull Masterstroke


Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 Comeback At The United States Grand Prix Could Prove To Be Red Bull Masterstroke

Image: McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo could be looking at another Formula 1 race spent on the sidelines after failing to fully recover from a broken metacarpal injury in time for this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix… but Red Bull bosses are quietly optimistic the Aussie driver could make his return in Austin; a strategic move that could potentially prove to be a masterstroke.

After a broken metacarpal injury in his left hand forced Daniel Ricciardo to withdraw at Zandvoort, just two races into his long-awaited comeback, the AlphaTauri driver has been patiently biding his time on the sidelines, awaiting his highly anticipated return to the Formula 1 grid.

Ricciardo, then on loan from sister team Red Bull, was quickly whisked off to Spain for specialist treatment intended to bring his recovery forward, with Red Bull bosses cautiously optimistic the Australian driver could race again in Suzuka, and failing that, Qatar.

Daniel Ricciardo was forced to retire after suffering a broken metacarpal in his left hand, just two races into his F1 return. Image: Formula 1

Liam Lawson, the young talent in Red Bull’s junior driver program, was battling for a Super Formula title in Japan when he got the call to replace Daniel Ricciardo on the Formula 1 grid and has acquitted himself well in the few races he’s been called upon this season.

In just three races, Lawson has finished a career-high of P9 and in the points for his new side – even finishing ahead of his teammate Yuki Tsunoda in each of his outings.

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However, ahead of last weekend’s Japan Grand Prix, AlphaTauri confirmed its driver line-up would remain unchanged for 2024, leaving Lawson eagerly waiting for his chance for a full-time seat in Formula 1. The news will likely bring relief to Ricciardo, giving the Australian driver sufficient time for a complete recovery before making his triumphant Formula 1 comeback.

However, it’s understood that Red Bull’s leadership is already eager and hopeful to see Ricciardo back behind the wheel in time for one of his favourite ever circuits: the Austin Grand Prix, later this month.

“His [Ricciardo’s] recuperation is going well. He’s fixed in the [AlphaTauri] seat for next year, does he need to rush a hasty return for Qatar?” Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal asked Sky Sports. “Where maybe a couple of weeks for Austin – which is a hell of a bumpy circuit anyway – it might be better to use that time in the preparation for Austin. I know he’s got his sights fixed on Qatar but he’ll drive the simulator next week and we’ll make some decisions based on that.”

Postponing Ricciardo’s comeback could potentially be a smart move by the Red Bull hierarchy; it’s no secret that the U.S. Grand Prix holds a special place in the heart of the Australian driver.

Given that Ricciardo spent most of this year improving the sport’s appeal in the United States through commercial endeavours, his well-timed return in Texas would undoubtedly be another masterstroke maneuver by Red Bull in what has been a season marked by strategic brilliance.