Nico Rosberg believes that Daniel Ricciardo’s injury may have cost him his shot at replacing Sergio Perez at Red Bull for the 2024 season. The Australian driver broke a bone in his hand after crashing during free practice for the Dutch Grand Prix.
The popular Aussie was drafted back into the AlphaTauri seat for the first time in a decade earlier this season after summer signing Nyck de Vries was dismissed in the wake of the British Grand Prix, having completed just ten races with the team.
Ricciardo produced steady if unspectacular drives at the Hungarian and Belgian Grands Prix, pushing team-mate Yuki Tsunoda in a way that De Vries had failed to do. Unfortunately, this all came undone at Zandvoort when he crashed at Tarzan corner, breaking a metacarpal bone in his hand.
Speaking about the crash on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, Rosberg said: “How unlucky has that been for Daniel, though? It’s incredible. He gets this chance to come back and he breaks his hand in a freak accident, so unlucky.
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“The latest from Christian Horner is that Danny will be back in Qatar. So he still misses a couple of races and then he’ll be able to come back because it’s apparently quite a decent break of the hand he’s had. It makes it difficult but Daniel has such a value to Red Bull, he’s so liked by Red Bull that they’ll definitely be patient in giving him a definite clear chance.
“But I think this break could actually be the difference between him getting a shot at replacing Perez next year, and having another year in AlphaTauri. I think the hand break could have the effect of putting him into one more year at AlphaTauri.”
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Many viewed Red Bull’s decision to assign the vacant AlphaTauri seat to Ricciardo as a move to put pressure on Perez, who has been struggling to hold a candle to team-mate Max Verstappen’s results since the opening four rounds of the campaign.
The Mexican driver is out of contract at the end of the 2024 season and while team principal Christian Horner has regularly reiterated that he plans to retain Checo beyond the current campaign, this has been questioned by the fans.
Unfortunately for Ricciardo, his injury has thrown a spanner in the works. Young New Zealander Liam Lawson has impressed immensely at Zandvoort and Monza after replacing the Perth-born driver, meaning the 34-year-old Aussie will need to work wonders to stand out on his return to the cockpit later this season.
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