Daniel Ricciardo could be out for up to two additional grands prix, according to new Alpha Tauri CEO Peter Bayer.
Just after rejoining Formula 1 following his exit from McLaren, the 33-year-old Australian suffered a hand breakage in seven places during a Zandvoort practice run.
This led to him missing the races in Monza and Singapore, and he’s also not participating this weekend in Japan.
“We hope Daniel will be ready for Qatar at the beginning of October,” Bayer told Speed Week. “At the latest in Austin.
“I’m cautiously optimistic about that.”
Another significant concern for Alpha Tauri is figuring out its driver lineup for 2024, especially given the strong performances by Ricciardo’s rookie substitute, Liam Lawson.
Yuki Tsunoda is expected to keep his seat, which could result in a showdown between Ricciardo and Lawson for the other spot.
“I spoke with the team and I can say that my contract has not yet been confirmed,” Japanese Tsunoda said at Suzuka on Thursday.
“Honestly, I don’t know how I would choose as my teammate as both are good options. Daniel is probably better for the experience but Liam immediately showed good speed in his first three races.
“On the other hand, the two races I had with Daniel were not the best for Alpha Tauri, and then Monza and Singapore the car was handling really well, which helped Liam,” he added.
“Alpha Tauri is a youth team, but the decision will depend on what the team wants. If it’s results, then probably Daniel. And Liam – I’m afraid to say something but he is also a great choice, I’ll leave it at that.
“Maybe Liam and Daniel will get the contracts,” Tsunoda laughed.
When questioned about the team’s decision-making, CEO Bayer stated: “We have a clear idea for 2024 and the decision will be made in the next few days.
“I can confirm that Liam has done a great job and he is scheduled to finish Super Formula in Japan,” he added.
In terms of broader changes at Alpha Tauri, the team is set to move closer to Red Bull Racing’s UK operations.
“This was extremely important in the consolidation phase, especially for the nervous employees,” Bayer admits. “We are a full part of the family.”
He further revealed that new staffing will come from the UK and be funded by “new sponsors” who will take over naming rights from Red Bull’s fashion brand, Alpha Tauri.
“The only thing I can reveal at the moment is that we will be leaning heavily on the parent brand Red Bull,” Bayer indicated. “We have a new name and new logo and the announcement is being planned.
“I have to make it clear that Alpha Tauri will continue to exist as a fashion brand, but its further involvement in Formula 1 is still being clarified,” he elaborated.
The latest whispers suggest that Adidas and Hugo Boss may be involved in the team’s new identity.
“Hugo Boss announced that they wanted to get more involved in Formula 1,” Bayer confirmed. “Several teams went knocking there, not just Aston Martin and us.
“With our new approach, many doors have opened for us,” he added. “We are very optimistic about having some new partners. The economic signs are good.”