Daniel Ricciardo will not race at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix to continue rehabilitation for his broken hand.
New Zealand rookie Liam Lawson will remain in the cockpit alongside Yuki Tsunoda.
Ricciardo broke a metacarpal bone in his left hand during practice at the Dutch Grand Prix in late August, keeping him sidelined ever since.
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AlphaTauri hasn’t committed to a return date for the injured Aussie, with his injuries to be reassessed early next week. The Qatar Grand Prix on 1 October is firming as a likely return date, though the team is yet to rule out an early comeback at next weekend’s race in Japan.
The 34-year-old will be at the Singapore Grand Prix but strictly in an engineering capacity to ensure he can hit the ground running upon his return. He completed only two grands prix — in Hungary and Belgium before the mid-season break — before breaking his hand.
Lawson has boosted his bid for a full-time race seat in 2024 with a pair of assured performances in Ricciardo’s absence.
He made a Q2 appearance at just his second time of asking at the Italian Grand Prix, where he finished 11th and less than seven seconds outside the points despite being saddled with a slower strategy.
Neither Ricciardo nor predecessor Nyck de Vries has finished higher than 12th this season, though Daniel finished 11th in Belgium’s sprint race.
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The Singapore Grand Prix will be Lawson’s sternest test. The track is the most physically gruelling on the calendar given its busy layout and the oppressive equatorial heat and humidity that persists into the night.
The Kiwi also hasn’t raced at the circuit before, leaving him with a steep learning curve to overcome this weekend.
“I know this is a very tough race physically, and when you get thrown into F1 in this situation, even with all the training in the world, it’s still such a tough adjustment,” he said. “It’s going to be extremely difficult, but we’ve been training for it and doing everything we can to prepare for that.
“Obviously the biggest adjustment will be getting used to the track, as I’ve only driven it on the sim, and street circuits are probably the hardest to replicate. They take confidence, and when you’re new to the track, or even my situation being new to Formula 1, having that confidence early in the weekend is pretty tricky.
“I’ll be aiming to build up as many laps as we can, a bit like Monza, to be honest. That was the target there, and it will be a similar sort of thing.
“Generally I like street circuits — for example, I absolutely love Monaco — so I’m expecting to enjoy Singapore too.”
Fox Sports Pit Talk podcast co-host Mat Coch said it wouldn’t be surprising to see Lawson struggle in the race given the surprise F1 rookie hadn’t undertaken he same level of fitness training as a full-time F1 driver to cope with the stifling conditions.
“Pre-season testing is all geared around this race, because once the season starts, it‘s so busy that you can’t get ahead on your fitness or your strength and conditioning,” he said. “It’s basically just trying to limit your losses or just hold station with where you are.
“Your pre-season really defines your fitness levels throughout the year. So how good are Liam‘s? He wasn’t expecting this, obviously. He’s a very fit young lad, but is he Singapore fit? That’s the question. This is a gruelling, gruelling race.”
PIT TALK PODCAST: Sergio Pérez appears to have admitted for the first time that he could be out of a job as soon as next season, with Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo potentially circling his seat — and with Kiwi Liam Lawson set for the sternest test yet of his F1 mettle.
But a strong result in that context would be only more impressive for his lack of preparation.
“He doesn’t have to go out there and be a superstar, he just has to bring the car home,” Coch said.
“He‘s making it very difficult to be ignored, which is exactly what he needs to do in this situation. I think Liam’s the real deal. I really do.”
Another strong race for Lawson would considerably complicate the driver market permutations, with Red Bull needing to squeeze Ricciardo, Lawson and Tsunoda into AlphaTauri’s two seats, which in turn has fed into the intrigue around whether Sergio Pérez will see out his Red Bull Racing contract next season.
Coch said a performance matching Yuki Tsunoda could be damaging for both the Japanese driver and Ricciardo.
“If he goes out and he‘s within shouting distance of Yuki Tsunoda this weekend, Yuki’s life gets very difficult,” he said. “But I guess so does Daniel’s by default, because suddenly Daniel’s got to be better than Liam to come back as well, because Liam’s doing phenomenally well.”
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