Daniel Ricciardo has returned to the cockpit for the first time since injuring himself in Zandvoort as the Australian took to the streets of Nashville in an old Red Bull.
AlphaTauri star Ricciardo, 34, broke his hand during a crash at the Dutch Grand Prix and was forced to miss the last five races as part of his recovery from surgery on the injury.
Ricciardo has been making steady progress ahead of his return to the grid, putting in laps on the simulator before getting behind the wheel on Saturday in Nashville, Texas ahead of his expected comeback at next weekend’s United States Grand Prix.
The Australian gave the Nashville crowd a good show in the Lower Broadway area of the city with a series of demo runs and donuts.
He drove the RB7 car from 2011, which took Sebastian Vettel to the world title that season. Ricciardo was later seen singing in a local bar.
Daniel Ricciardo was back in an F1 car ahead of his expected return to the grid in Texas
The Australian drove an old Red Bull car on the streets of Nashville on Saturday
‘Driving here in Nashville on Broadway was pretty wild,’ said Ricciardo after Saturday’s action. ‘Broadway is normally wild in itself but especially today! It was cool to put on a show for everyone.’
In Ricciardo’s absence, young Kiwi racer Liam Lawson has deputised admirably, largely outperforming Japanese star Yuki Tsunoda across his five races on the big stage, while he also outqualified Max Verstappen at the Singapore Grand Prix.
AlphaTauri have stuck with Ricciardo and Tsunoda for the 2024 season, despite Lawson’s strong performances.
At the Japanese Grand Prix, AlphaTauri’s chief engineer Jonathan Eddolls said they would ensure that Ricciardo is in the best possible condition before allowing him to get in the car again.
‘Well, we all saw him in Singapore,’ he said. ‘He’s still going through that recovery phase. I would say we’re still talking a while away, so I wouldn’t want to put a target on it. The recovery is going well.
‘We’ve got some simulator work planned before a return. 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.’
Ricciardo has been sidelined for five weeks after breaking his hand in Zandvoort