New Zealander Liam Lawson will make his Formula One debut with AlphaTauri in Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix after Australian Daniel Ricciardo crashed in practice and was ruled out with a broken left hand.
Ricciardo crashed at turn three in Friday’s second session at Zandvoort, with television replays showing him still holding the steering wheel on impact, and he was taken to hospital for further checks.
“An X-ray confirmed he sustained a break to a metacarpal on his left hand, and this injury will not allow him to continue his duties,” AlphaTauri said in a statement.
Lawson, the team’s 21-year-old official reserve driver, was given the nod.
Ricciardo made his F1 comeback in Hungary last month as replacement for Dutch driver Nyck de Vries and this weekend would have been his third race of the season. The injury comes at a particularly bad time with Zandvoort followed on immediately by the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Sept 3.
Ricciardo went straight into the barriers to avoid the McLaren of compatriot Oscar Piastri, who had crashed at the same point seconds earlier. “I remember coming into Turn Three. I had already got into the corner and then saw Piastri, so it was either hit him or the wall,” said Ricciardo.
“When I hit the wall, I didn’t have enough time to take my hands off the steering wheel, so the wheel came and hit my hand. It’s really unfortunate and frustrating, but I’ll try to recover as quickly as I can.
“Obviously, I’d love to get back soon, but I also want to ensure we do things the right way, so I come back strong and competitive. I wish the team well, and I’m sorry for the change in plans again.”
Ricciardo, who swore over the team radio and looked in pain as he climbed out of the car clutching his left wrist, wished Lawson a strong weekend. The New Zealander has taken part in three free practice sessions to date, two for AlphaTauri and one for Red Bull, and has been racing in Japanese SuperFormula this year after finishing third in Formula Two last season.
Lawson will be the 10th Kiwi driver to start a grand prix and the first since Brendon Hartley with AlphaTauri’s predecessor Toro Rosso in 2018.
“With Daniel recovering, we welcome Liam back to the team to drive his car, but this time in a much more competitive situation,” said AlphaTauri’s chief race engineer Jonathan Eddolls. “It has all happened very quickly, but Liam has shown he is more than ready to step up to the challenge, and he has the whole team behind him.”