Twenty-one-year-old Liam Lawson had his introduction to F1 in three practice sessions the previous season, representing both AlphaTauri and Red Bull. The rising star is all set to break new ground as he secures his racing debut at Zandvoort under the banner of the Italian team, AlphaTauri.
In an unexpected turn of events, Lawson will take over Ricciardo’s position for Red Bull. Ricciardo, an Australian veteran, suffered an injury during FP2 on Friday, hitting at Turn 3 and emerging with noticeable distress in his left arm. He was later found to have fractured his hand, effectively removing him from the racing picture for the weekend.
So, who exactly is Liam Lawson? This young 21-year-old hails from Pukekohe in New Zealand and serves as a reserve driver for both the Red Bull and AlphaTauri Formula 1 teams since mid-2022. His primary racing commitments currently lie with Team Mugen in Super Formula. He holds the second spot in the rankings after winning three races in this debut season in the Japanese series.
Moving back through his racing timeline, Lawson made a mark in Formula 2 between 2021 and 2022. He first represented Hitech Grand Prix before moving to Rodin Carlin for his following season. His impressive rookie year saw him snag ninth place, boasting one victory, three podium positions and one pole position. His only win occurred during his first run in the Bahrain sprint race.
Adding to his busy 2021, Lawson also had a brush with the DTM championship, racing for Red Bull AF Corse alongside team-mate and current Williams F1 driver, Alex Albon. Despite a commendable effort, he ended up as a runner-up, falling prey to a first-lap road collision caused by his competitor, Kelvin van der Linde, during the last race at the Norisring. Lawson watched helplessly with a severely damaged Ferrari while Maximilian Gotz took over the championship thanks to Mercedes‘ team orders.
His success continued in his second F2 season where he held third place behind Felipe Drugovich and Theo Pourchaire. His accomplishments in this season included winning four races and making it to 10 podiums. Before F2, he completed two successful years in Formula 3. He kicked off his F3 stint with MP Motorsport in 2019, achieving two podiums and finishing 11th overall.
A brightly shining star even early in his racing career, Lawson had a second-place finish in Australian F4 in 2017 racing for Team BRM. A year later, he engaged in both ADAC F4 and Asian F3, clutching second and eighth positions in each.
Lawson became a part of the Red Bull family in February 2019 at the age of 17. He now stands as the second-longest serving member after F2 driver Dennis Hauger. In 2019, his performance in the Toyota Racing Series propelled him into Red Bull‘s Junior Team, earning him the title over Ferrari protege and current IndyCar driver, Marcus Armstrong. Red Bull steered Lawson’s path to compete in Super Formula, where he followed the footsteps of renowned Red Bull juniors like Pierre Gasly, Dan Ticktum, and Lucas Auer.
Lawson had been on the radar to progress to F1 this year, considering his feats in Super Formula. However, Ricciardo was the choice to replace Nyck de Vries for the concluding 12 races of the 2023 season. AlphaTauri expressed a bias towards an experienced driver to rescue it from its existing low tide. Despite this, Lawson’s vision hasn’t veered off course. He strives to make his show-stopping performances in Japan a compelling case to prove himself ready for an F1 promotion in 2024.