After AlphaTauri confirmed that Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda would continue in Formula 1 for 2024, questions arose regarding the future of young Kiwi driver Liam Lawson who would feel as though he’s done enough to earn a full-time seat.
It’s been a strong showing from Australian and New Zealand drivers in Formula 1 this season, with Oscar Piastri, McLaren’s rookie driver, consistently delivering points to earn a bumper new contract in his debut season.
Daniel Ricciardo also showed glimpses of his lost form upon his return to AlphaTauri this year, replacing the underperforming Nyck de Vries in July, before an accident forced the Australian to withdraw with a fractured hand and stifling his triumphant return to the grid.
Although AlphaTauri’s season was seemingly derailing with each passing circuit, Red Bull, AlphaTauri’s sister racing team, was able to call on their young up-and-comer Liam Lawson, who had spent the majority of his season competing in Japan and was on course to lift his maiden Super Formula title.
With less than two day’s notice, Lawson was thrust into the driver’s seat of AlphaTauri’s temperamental AT04, finishing respectably in P13 on his Formula 1 debut at Zandvoort, and, crucially, two places ahead of his new teammate, Yuki Tsunoda.
Lawson would jump two places in the following race at Monza, before securing his first points in Formula 1, securing a P9 at the Singapore Grand Prix and presenting a fresh complication for AlphaTauri and Red Bull hierarchy.
“I think it’s only a matter of time before Liam gets his chance and a full-time opportunity.”Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal
In the end, the opportunity had come a little too soon for Lawson, who, although impressing his new bosses, ultimately could not break into AlphaTauri’s permanent driver line-up, with the Italian racing team opting for Ricciardo’s invaluable experience for the season ahead.
It’s understood Lawson knew his fate before the Japanese Grand Prix; the Kiwi driver reportedly accepted a reserve driver role with Red Bull similar to Daniel Ricciardo’s this season in exchange for a guaranteed seat for the 2025 season.
Daniel Ricciardo deserves the chance to fight for his position, and once the eight-time race winner returns from his unfortunate injury, he’ll race to complete Red Bull’s driver line-up alongside Max Verstappen after Sergio Pérez’s contract expires in 2024.
It’s not confirmed which team Lawson will be racing for, yet it’s highly likely that it will be with AlphaTauri where he can continue his development until he’s ready for a seat further up the grid.
Liam Lawson’s value within the Red Bull Racing program is undeniable. While he may currently find himself in the role of a reserve driver, awaiting the moment to seize a full-time race seat, there’s an undeniable sense of anticipation surrounding his potential in the sport.
The glimpses we’ve seen of Lawson in action during his brief appearances on the Formula 1 grid have been nothing short of impressive. He’s a natural talent—determined and adaptable. It’s abundantly clear that he possesses the raw talent and potential to make a significant impact when he secures his permanent spot on the grid.