AlphaTauri Head of Trackside Engineering Jonathan Eddolls says Daniel Ricciardo’s return to Formula 1 remains “a while away” yet.

Ricciardo, who was dropped at the end of 2022 by McLaren, was handed an F1 reprieve when Nyck de Vries was ousted only 10 races into his rookie season with AlphaTauri.

However, the Australian’s comeback stint lasted only two whole race weekends before a crash during the opening stages of FP3 at Zandvoort saw him break his left hand.

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner previously issued Ricciardo was pinpointing the Qatar Grand Prix as a possible return point, but Eddolls has placed that in doubt.

Nevertheless, Eddolls declares that AlphaTauri is willing to grant Ricciardo the time to ensure his left hand fully heals, adding that the team has a simulator programme in place to assess him.

“He’s still going through that recovery phase. We’re still talking a while away, so we wouldn’t want to put a target on it. The recovery is going well. We’ve got some simulator work planned before a return,” he explained on Friday in Suzuka.

“I think from our side and his side, there’s no rush to get him back too early. The worst thing would be to come back before it’s properly healed and cause any issues. So watch this space.

“The simulator is a very good representation of the car, all of the loads, et cetera. I think the final decision is more than likely going to come from him rather than from us.

“He will know better than anyone how is the pain and how is the recovery. We’re not putting him under pressure to come back. We’ve got a pool of three good drivers at the moment, so there’s no big rush.

“The focus is on him making a full recovery so that when he comes back, it’s not a point that’s even talked about.”

Liam Lawson (NZL) AlphaTauri on the grid. 17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day.

Ricciardo’s absence has allowed Liam Lawson the unexpected opportunity to embark upon his F1 debut.

Lawson has impressed massively in his trio of deputy appearances to date, converting a top-10 start in Singapore into a ninth-place finish to score his maiden F1 points.

“He’s got up to speed very, very quickly,” Eddolls assessed. “Yuki has still got the edge on him, which is totally to be expected with the experience. But I think the fact that he’s got into Q3, he scored points very early in a car that’s not the most competitive, and at times difficult to drive.

“I think from what we see compared to some of our previous drivers, he’s up there and he’s got the potential.

“I think we’re all excited for more races working with him in the meantime, while we wait for Daniel to recover.”

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