Despite his impressive performances as a stand-in since the Dutch Grand Prix, New Zealand native Liam Lawson‘s chances of securing a permanent Formula 1 seat appear slim. Lawson has been filling in for Daniel Ricciardo, yet his commendable contributions have not been sufficient to guarantee him a permanent position.
Red Bull has shown interest in getting Ricciardo on board with AlphaTauri for the upcoming season. This leaves Lawson’s only possibility for a 2024 drive to be selected above current driver Yuki Tsunoda. However, with news that an agreement has been reached between Tsunoda and AlphaTauri for the 2024 season, and an official announcement anticipated at the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, Lawson’s chances of landing a seat seem postponed.
Options for Lawson outside AlphaTauri are limited with the potential vacancy at Williams being the singular scope, should they decide not to retain Logan Sargeant. More than likely Lawson will assume a test and reserve role at Red Bull, awaiting a possible reshuffle of the drivers for the energy drink company in 2025.
It’s uncommon for Red Bull to loan out their drivers, as expressed by team boss, Christian Horner, at the Japanese Grand Prix on Friday. He hinted at future plans for Lawson within the Red Bull fold. “He’s in the Red Bull family,” Horner stated. Drawing a parallel with a past scenario, he mentioned how Carlos Sainz had been loaned to the former Renault team, though he implied that Lawson would have numerous responsibilities even if he does not secure a Grand Prix seat next year.
Horner went on to commend Lawson’s performance at AlphaTauri, highlighting his efforts at Zandvoort amidst adverse weather conditions after Ricciardo suffered a hand injury during the second practice. Lawson’s grit was evident in subsequent races freeing Horner to opine, “He’s grabbed this opportunity in F1, and it’s very seldom drivers get a chance to demonstrate their talent. I think he’s done a tremendous job and certainly has put himself firmly on the radar, and cemented the feeling that we had about him.”
Even though Lawson might not secure a racing seat soon, Horner expressed confidence in Lawson’s potential for a future in F1. Horner acknowledged the “luxury problem” of having to fit three great drivers into two slots at AlphaTauri, dubbing it a pleasant conundrum. “He will be a grand prix driver and he already is a grand prix driver, at some stage”, Horner emphasised. Whether Lawson’s full entry into F1 is postponed or not, he is undoubtedly recognised as a promising talent for the future, according to the Red Bull team boss.