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SPA, BELGIUM - JULY 28: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Scuderia AlphaTauri and Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Scuderia AlphaTauri talk to the crowd on the fan stage prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on July 28, 2023 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202307280173 // Usage for editorial use only //

Horner: Qatar GP return for Ricciardo less likely than likely

SPA, BELGIUM - JULY 28: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Scuderia AlphaTauri and Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Scuderia AlphaTauri talk to the crowd on the fan stage prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on July 28, 2023 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // Horner: Qatar GP return for Ricciardo less likely than likely// Usage for editorial use only //

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner reports that Daniel Ricciardo’s return to AlphaTauri, after recovering from his hand injury, is “less likely than likely at the moment” which means Liam Lawson gets another weekend to gain experience and shine in the top flight.

Three Grand Prix weekends into his comeback, replacing Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, Ricciardo broke a bone in his hand when he crashed during the Dutch Grand Prix weekend. Since then he has been replaced by Red Bull-developed driver Liam Lawson who has four GP starts to his name.

Regarding a return to the cockpit for Ricciardo at the Qatar Grand Prix next weekend, Horner stated: “I would say probably less likely than likely at the moment. His recuperation is going well and he’s fixed in the seat for next year.

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Does he need to rush a hasty return for Qatar where 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.”

The subject turned to Lawson, who has two points to his name in four races this season, while teammate Yuki Tsunoda has three points from 16 races; the New Zealand rookie also beat the Japanese driver at Suzuka on Sunday.

Horner said of Lawson’s chances of securing a drive in F1 in the near future: “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,” said Horner.

The Qatar Grand Prix is round 17 of the 22 F1 World Championship, held at desert-based Losail Circuit, a traditional MotoGP venue which first made its way onto the F1 calendar in 2021 as a COVID-19 substitute venue. Before inking a ten-year deal that will host the GP from this year on.