AlphaTauri Head of Trackside Engineering Jonathan Eddolls has hinted at a delay to Daniel Ricciardo's return from injury,
The Australian broke a metacarpal in his left hand when failing to let go of the steering wheel of his AT04 in a crash during second practice for the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.
Liam Lawson has since stepped in to partner Yuki Tsunoda, with the New Zealander impressing on all three starts so far - picking up his maiden points at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Ricciardo, Red Bull and AlphaTauri had been targeting the next round of the campaign in Qatar as a return date should rehabilitation go smoothly but speaking to media including RacingNews365.com at the Japanese Grand Prix, Eddolls suggested the goalposts could move.
"We saw him in Singapore, he is still going through that recovery phase," explained Eddolls.
"I would say we are still talking a while away so I wouldn't want to put a target on it.
"The recovery is going well, we have got some simulator work planned before a return and I think from our side and his side, there's no rush to get him back too early.
"The worst thing would be to come back before it is properly healed and cause any issues.
"So watch this space."
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On how a return to the simulator will assist Ricciardo in returning to track action, Eddolls added: "The simulator is a really good representation of the car and all of the loads etcetera.
"I think the final decision is more than likely going to come from him rather than from us, he will know better than anyone how the pain is and how the recovery is.
"We are not putting him under pressure to come back, we have got a pool of three good drivers at the moment, so there is no big rush.
"The focus is on him making a full recovery so that when he comes back, it is not a point that is even talked about."