Daniel Ricciardo says he hopes to “recover as quickly as I can” after breaking his hand in Friday practice ruling the Australian out of this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix.
His Alpha Tauri team’s reserve driver, Liam Lawson, is a last minute super-sub and it promises to be a baptism of fire for the 21-year-old New Zealander.
With only three practice sessions under his belt last year he now has to grapple with competing against double world champion Max Verstappen and company at the unforgiving tight and twisty Zandvoort circuit.
Add in the conditions, the seaside circuit was hit by a storm early on Saturday with more rain forecast, and it’s asking a lot of the 21-year-old Lawson at such short notice.
He could well be needed next weekend too at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, depending on how Ricciardo’s recovery goes.
Ricciardo described his misfortune on only his third race back from a sabbatical as “really unfortunate and frustrating”.
He added: “I’ll try to recover as quickly as I can. Obviously, I’d love to get back soon, but I also want to ensure we do things the right way, so I come back strong and competitive.”
Ricciardo’s weekend ended cruelly when he hurtled into a barrier at turn three in second practice, his hands on the wheel and absorbing the impact.
Ironically it was Oscar Piastri, his replacement at McLaren, the team that let him go last season, who was inadvertently involved in the incident.
Rookie Piastri lost control on the banked bend, his car’s nose ending up in the barrier with the rear sticking out onto the track.
Seconds later Ricciardo came flying around the corner, ending up beside his fellow Australian.
“I remember coming into Turn 3,” said Ricciardo.
“I had already gotten into the corner and then saw Piastri, so it was either hit him or the wall. When I hit the wall, I didn’t have enough time to take my hands off the steering wheel, so the wheel came and hit my hand.”
He added: “I wish the team well, and I’m sorry for the change in plans again. It’s a chance for Liam to have a go, and I wish him and the team a strong weekend.”
Alpha Tauri’s chief engineer Jonathan Eddolls reflected: “It has all happened very quickly, but Liam has shown he is more than ready to step up to the challenge, and he has the whole team behind him.”
Alpha Tauri’s other driver Yuki Tsunoda was impressed with Ricciardo’s trademark cheery persona.
“I saw him after he got back, and he still had a smile on his face. He is such a positive and strong guy, I hope he recovers quickly and is back in the car soon!” said the Japanese driver.
Lawson will become the 10th New Zealander to compete in a grand prix and the first since Brendon Hartley raced for Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) in 2017 and 2018.
He won the Toyota Racing Series in 2019 before competing for Carlin in Formula 2, finishing third in 2022.
While one McLaren was being craned off the track on Friday the other, with Lando Norris at the wheel, went on to top the timesheets ahead of home hero Verstappen.
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