Red Bull Formula 1 team principal Christian Horner says it is “less than likely” that Daniel Ricciardo will return from injury at next month’s Qatar Grand Prix.
Ricciardo has been sidelined since suffering a broken bone in his hand during a crash in practice at Zandvoort last month.
He underwent surgery following the accident and, while his recovery is going well, there are no plans to rush Ricciardo back.
Qatar was named as a realistic timeframe for the Australian driver to be back behind the wheel, but it now appears Ricciardo won’t race until the US Grand Prix on October 22 at the earliest.
Horner felt that it made more sense for Ricciardo to postpone his return until Austin as it would give him extra time to prepare for the circuit’s bumpy nature.
Speaking to Sky Sports News about the possibility of Ricciardo being in the car in Qatar, Horner said: “I would say probably less likely than likely at the moment.
“His recuperation is going well but he’s fixed in the seat for next year, does he need to rush a hasty return for Qatar where maybe another couple of weeks for Austin, which is a hell of a bumpy circuit anyway, it might be better to use that time in preparation for Austin.
“I know he’s got his sights fixed on Qatar, he’ll drive the simulator next week and then we’ll make some decisions based on that.”
Red Bull drafted in junior driver Liam Lawson as Ricciardo’s stand-in until the eight-time grand prix winner was fit enough to return, with the Kiwi impressing during his four sub appearances for AlphaTauri.
Lawson qualified and finished in the top 10 at the Singapore Grand Prix and has finished ahead of regular driver Yuki Tsunoda in all of the races.
But despite earning praise for his performances, Lawson missed out on a seat for 2024, where he will go back to a reserve role at Red Bull.
Asked if Lawson had been given any guarantees of a drive for 2025, Horner replied: “There is no guarantees of anything in life. He’s done a great job; he’s really impressed us.
“He’s done exactly what we could have asked for in terms of grabbing the opportunity in Daniel’s absence to really show his capability. That’s turned some heads and it’s done him a lot of good.
“We’ll keep developing him when he goes back into that test and reserve role and he’ll be a candidate certainly for 2025.”