Daniel Ricciardo opened up on his lengthy recovery ahead of his second Formula 1 return of the season with AlphaTauri at the 2023 United States Grand Prix, seven weeks after breaking his hand at Zandvoort.
Ricciardo‘s hand remained on his steering wheel when he hit the wall in FP2 of the Dutch GP aiming to avoid compatriot Oscar Piastri‘s stricken McLaren, leaving him sidelined just three race weekends after replacing Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri.
In his absence, Liam Lawson became the talk of the paddock with a hugely successful five-race cameo, but he’s set to miss out on an F1 seat for 2024 with Ricciardo contracted to AlphaTauri for the full season.
“I’m happy to be back” Ricciardo told the media, “the hand is good, and I just want to go and get back to it now. When the accident happened we were aware of which bone broke, they seemed fairly okay with that bone in terms of it being a relatively easy one to fix.
“Then when we got the surgery done in Spain, we got further checks done and the break was a lot worse than it seemed. So I think that’s what took longer for the recovery and probably made it a little more painful for myself.”
Ricciardo tips hat to Lawson performance
Ricciardo was set to return for the Qatar GP but complications in his recovery meant Lawson got one more race, before the official comeback in Austin.
The Australian hasn’t raced the AT04 in nearly three months, since before F1‘s summer break where he was outperformed by teammate Yuki Tsunoda at the Belgian GP.
Lawson was able to take advantage of a significant upgrade as custodian of the car, and his ninth place in Singapore means he actually sits 19th in the championship ahead of De Vries, Logan Sargeant and Ricciardo.
And Ricciardo won’t have much chance to get up to speed at the Circuit of the Americas either, with the sprint weekend meaning there’s just one practice session before qualifying.
“He did a very good job, excellent,” Ricciardo added. “I went out to Singapore and we had some pretty big updates, and that was a pretty positive weekend for the team.
“The drivers were saying that they could feel some good differences, so I’m expecting the car to be a little stronger than where I left it.”