Horner: Ricciardo right to miss gruelling Qatar GP
By Ian Parkes
Thursday 12th October, 2023 - 5:00am
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes it made perfect sense for Daniel Ricciardo to miss last weekend’s race in Qatar rather than be rushed back too soon.
Ricciardo has been sidelined since breaking a bone in his left hand during a crash in Friday practice for the Dutch GP in August when he turned into a barrier in order to avoid the stricken McLaren of fellow Australian Oscar Piastri.
The 34-year-old has since missed the last five grands prix after initially embarking on a comeback in F1 with AlphaTauri following the sacking of Nyck de Vries in July.
Ricciardo was close to returning for the race at the Lusail International Circuit, although Horner feels that given the heat and humidity that affected a number of drivers, it was better he was looking on from afar.
Ricciardo will now be back in the car at next weekend’s United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin.
“We want to see him in full fitness,” said Horner. “I think it was right (for him) 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.”
Horner feels there would have been nothing for Ricciardo to prove in Qatar, especially being safe in the knowledge he will be driving for AlphaTauri in 2024.
It allowed Liam Lawson to continue to deputise, with the 21-year-old New Zealander now reverting back to his role as reserve before completing Japan’s Super Formula season later this month.
“Of course, he (Ricciardo) wanted to come back,” added Horner. “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’.”