Liam Lawson has made fairly the impression as a super-sub for Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri, the New Zealander scoring factors as soon as and ending simply exterior in eleventh twice in simply 4 Grands Prix. So why was he neglected for a race seat by the Italian staff for 2024, and what may the long run maintain for him?
Leaping right into a staff halfway by way of a Components 1 marketing campaign isn’t any straightforward feat, particularly when you’re a rookie. However regardless of his F1 expertise being restricted to only a few checks and three appearances in first follow periods final 12 months, Lawson has excelled.
ANALYSIS: Why AlphaTauri have opted for expertise with 2024 line-up
The 21-year-old has proved it is potential to hit the bottom operating and display your expertise in a brief window. He has impressed the staff by seamlessly settling in and shortly discovering efficiency, each over one lap and throughout a race distance.
It’s maybe no shock contemplating he’s proven actual expertise in junior components. He’s gained a minimum of one race in each season he’s competed in internationally and is presently second in Tremendous Components, Japan’s extremely aggressive single-seater collection, with one race to go.
However it’s one factor to be quick in different collection, fairly one other to show that velocity on in Components 1 – as former Components E and Components 2 champion Nyck de Vries proved this 12 months, with the Dutchman parting methods with AlphaTauri after simply 10 races, having made a stellar points-scoring debut in a one-off look for Williams final 12 months in Monza.
Lawson has been fast throughout 4 very completely different racetracks in F1 – one in every of which (Singapore) he has by no means pushed earlier than in any racing class – and in a automobile that was among the many slowest within the midfield. That’s an excellent pattern and a close to blueprint of what’s anticipated from a super-sub eager to make an impression.
With two seats at AlphaTauri up for grabs subsequent 12 months, many felt Lawson had performed sufficient to safe a full-time gig – however Pink Bull senior administration noticed it in a different way and opted for expertise by retaining Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda.
This isn’t the top for Lawson, although, however moderately the start. He has significantly impressed his bosses at Pink Bull and AlphaTauri and efficiently repaid their religion and funding in him – and that places him in a robust place within the brief time period.
READ MORE: Lawson took no ‘satisfaction’ from beating Tsunoda in Japan after lacking out on 2024 AlphaTauri seat
Pink Bull will proceed to closely spend money on him by way of his function as reserve driver for subsequent season. That can imply embedding him in each Pink Bull and AlphaTauri in any respect races subsequent 12 months, making certain he continues to construct relationships with mechanics and engineers and is totally plugged into debriefs and inside conversations.
Again at base, he’ll change into much more accustomed to Pink Bull’s simulator, with race drivers for each Pink Bull groups relying closely on his efforts and suggestions to assist them zero in on the best set-up for a race weekend – whereas additionally enhancing his personal information of the tracks and the way the staff operates and develops.
He has now accomplished too many Grands Prix to be eligible to fulfil the 2 Pink Bull groups’ respective obligations of operating a younger driver in a minimum of two FP1 periods throughout a season – nevertheless he’ll possible get runs within the automobile throughout Pirelli tyre testing and it’s potential they’ll assist preserve his eye in with some old-spec F1 runs, too.
Oscar Piastri has proved a 12 months on the sidelines isn’t any unhealthy factor. He spent final 12 months on the Alpine bench earlier than making his F1 debut with McLaren this 12 months, the Australian making a reputation for himself with a string of sensible performances, together with a maiden podium final day out in Japan.
READ MORE: Piastri singles out areas for enchancment after maiden F1 podium in Japan
And there’s an opportunity Lawson gained’t even have to attend till 2025 to get his shot, with Pink Bull having proven they aren’t afraid of a mid-season driver change once they eliminated De Vries and changed him with Ricciardo earlier than the summer time break.
Sergio Perez is beneath stress at Pink Bull, having scored solely a little bit over half the variety of factors his staff mate Max Verstappen has mustered, the Mexican trailing by 177 factors regardless of having what’s comfortably the very best automobile within the discipline.
Sources counsel Ricciardo can be Pink Bull’s favoured driver to switch Perez if required both mid-season or on the finish of 2024 marketing campaign, with Lawson being drafted in to switch the Australian at AlphaTauri.
With that is thoughts, Pink Bull are eager to maintain maintain of Lawson. It’s potential they may mortgage him out for a 12 months, ought to Williams need him to switch Logan Sargeant. The 2 groups have collaborated earlier than, with Alex Albon becoming a member of the British outfit, having been beneath contract at Pink Bull as reserve.
Nevertheless, any such deal for Lawson would nearly definitely solely be for a 12 months, with Pink Bull understood to be very eager to have Lawson racing one in every of their 4 vehicles in 2025 – and that’s prone to be unappealing to Williams.
READ MORE: Horner says it’s ‘solely a matter of time’ earlier than Lawson will get everlasting F1 alternative
This implies Lawson’s short-term future in all fairness clear. Proceed to ship as a sub for Ricciardo till the Australian returns – there’s a great probability Lawson will race in Qatar subsequent weekend with Ricciardo’s return extra prone to be Austin on the earliest – after which throw every thing into his duties as a reserve.
Then he bides his time. As a result of it appears to be like set to be a case of when, not if, he will get a full-time seat. And at 21 – as the present youngest racer on the grid – time is definitely on his aspect.
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