Liam Lawson is set to retain his seat at AlphaTauri for this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix, with Daniel Ricciardo targeting a return in Austin.

Ricciardo has been absent since breaking a bone in his hand during a crash in practice at the Dutch Grand Prix at the end of August, requiring surgery on the complex fracture.

While recovery has gone smoothly so far, the timeline provided to the Australian w as always indicating a return in the United States with an outside chance of Qatar, and despite a positive simulator session earlier this week, RACER understands the decision has been made to focus on Austin.

While Ricciardo could have attempted a comeback this weekend, any unforeseen issues on Friday would have heavily disrupted the rest of the event for both Lawson and AlphaTauri as it’s a Sprint weekend, meaning the rookie would have had to go straight into qualifying with his first laps had he not participated in FP1.

To ensure Lawson gets a clean run at the weekend, Ricciardo will continue his recovery for a further two weeks, allowing the New Zealander clarity on the plans. Ricciardo also doesn’t need to rush a return having already been confirmed alongside Yuki Tsunoda for 2024, with Lawson reverting to a reserve role for both Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

Lawson has impressed during his stand-in spell this season, scoring two points in Singapore and finishing ahead of team-mate Tsunoda after a race-long battle last time out in Japan.