Lawson: Qatar target for Ricciardo return
By Mat Coch
Thursday 21st September, 2023 - 6:18pm
Liam Lawson has revealed the Qatar Grand Prix is the target event for Daniel Ricciardo to return to F1 as his recovery from a broken hand continues.
Lawson is again in the Scuderia AlphaTauri for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. It is his third full race event and fourth since Ricciardo broke his hand.
Ricciardo has had surgery and is now working on his recovery, which involves therapy to return full range of motion and strength.
No date for his return has officially been made with Lawson to remain in place until he does.
Ricciardo’s recovery will take time. Even for an elite athlete whose sole focus will be recovery, it is a numbers game and one that can only be pushed along to a certain point.
The positive news was that, in Singapore, the splint he wore was limited to only the hand.
That is consistent with a break in the head or neck region of the metacarpal rather than the shaft – the latter of which is a less stable fracture and would likely require a splint that stabilises the wrist as well.
Ricciardo’s was limited to the outside of the left hand, suggesting a (relatively) stable break. That’s good news.
This weekend marks four weeks since the break with movement likely to start becoming easier for the Australian.
Following surgery, an increase in scar tissue will make the hand stiffer before it begins to free up.
In usual circumstances, a splint would be worn for the first six weeks, meaning Ricciardo will likely have it on for another two, which corresponds with the Qatar Grand Prix.
It is therefore nip and tuck whether Ricciardo will return for that event. While technically possible his hand may not have recovered enough.
“The target is definitely Qatar, which is obviously next after this,” Lawson said of Ricciardo’s return.
“I think that’s a realistic goal but I have no idea exactly the chances of that happening or not.
“So I think like usual after this, I’ll probably do some preparation. But the goal is definitely to have Daniel back.”
The six-week mark for a return is aggressive, and before many therapists would recommend, but Ricciardo is an elite athlete who is receiving extensive, high-quality care.
Even still, it’s a big ask with little to gain, so it would be no surprise for Scuderia AlphaTauri to elect to leave him on the bench for another race, bringing him back for the United States Grand Prix.
That coincides with the eight-week mark of his recovery, a point at which therapists would be more likely to support a return. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be pain-free, but at that point he will be close to full health once more.