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While we were getting over-speculating replacements for Max Verstappen as French law enforcement is after him for alleged traffic violations. But the thrilling F1 races, where a split second can change everything, and a race isn’t over ’til it’s over. The Dutch GP just got heated, with Daniel Ricciardo facing a potential hand injury that sent him to the hospital, the AlphaTauri team is scrambling. The Australian’s run-in with the barriers was enough to send shockwaves through the paddock, and now the question is – who will step into Ricciardo’s shoes if he’s ruled out?

During the FP2 at the Dutch GP, Daniel Ricciardo suffered a significant crash at the top of the banked Turn 3. The impact with the barriers was a result of attempting to avoid the stricken McLaren of fellow Australian racer Oscar Piastri. The collision left Ricciardo struggling to exit his AlphaTauri, holding his left arm in apparent discomfort. His painful cry of “F**k, my hand” on the team radio was as chilling as the winter wind. The red flag was waved. Following an initial assessment at the circuit medical center, Ricciardo was swiftly transferred to a local hospital for further evaluation. The severity of his hand injury now looms large, casting doubt on his ability to compete in the upcoming race.

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Now, the spotlight shifts to the potential replacements: Liam Lawson or Nyck de Vries? Liam Lawson, currently participating in the Super Formula series, is the immediate standby option for AlphaTauri. A skilled and promising young driver, Lawson has been associated with Red Bull‘s junior program and has shown impressive performances in various racing disciplines. His versatility and role as a reserve driver for AlphaTauri make him a prime candidate to replace Ricciardo. Lawson’s aspiration to make it to F1 is well-known as his dreams were put on hold by Ricciardo’s return to AlphaTauri, and his presence at the Zandvoort circuit suggests that he could be the one to step in if Ricciardo’s injury prevents him from racing. But Ricciardo’s broken wrist after FP2 shunt confirms he’s out for FP3 and Liam Lawson to steer AlphaTauri in his stead. Race-day driver still a mystery.

Meanwhile, de Vries, the Dutchman who lost his seat to Ricciardo after just ten races, is still under contract with Red Bull.  De Vries’s journey with AlphaTauri lasted only 10 races before being replaced by Daniel Ricciardo. However, his experience within the Red Bull ecosystem and his familiarity with the team could make him a viable option to step in if needed. Although his tenure with the team was cut short, his contractual ties to Red Bull still hold significance.

Lawson is driven by a hunger for success, and a desire to prove that he belongs in F1. De Vries, on the other hand, is a man on a mission to show that his axing was a mistake. Ironically, before the practice, Ricciardo reflected on his move to AlphaTauri and how it rekindled his love for racing.

Rediscovering the Daniel Ricciardo within

Another irony in Ricciardo’s return is hard to ignore, as just months ago, he was contemplating his exit from the sport. Finding himself lost and discontented, he considered walking away. But the racetrack’s call was too strong, and the Australian driver now reveals that he feels like the Honey Badger from “ten years ago.” A spark has been reignited, and the fire now burns with the force of his early days in F1.

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“I want to be racing for a few more years now. I think six months ago that was not my answer,” Ricciardo openly shared with the media. Reflecting on his journey, he further adds, “I feel like I do have that young energy again and that motivation and ultimately that happiness and that love to be back on the grid and to be racing.”

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We hope Ricciardo is fine and we get to witness the rise of Honey Badger as soon as possible, but what do you think who will step into Ricciardo’s cockpit? Lawson or de Vries?

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Written by

Vidhita

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Vidhita is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports. Driven by her deep passion for motorsports and a love for the exhilaration of speed. Since 2016, she has been captivated by the world of F1 after watching a race with a relative, and her fascination has only grown stronger over the years.
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Edited by

Aishwary Gaonkar