Christian Horner defends decision to snub 21-year-old and sign Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull junior driver Liam Lawson has won three of the last six races in Super Formula.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has defended the decision to loan development driver Daniel Ricciardo to AlphaTauri, instead of promoting junior driver Liam Lawson.

It was announced two days after the British Grand Prix that Nyck de Vries had been sacked by AlphaTauri, just 10 races into his debut campaign.

The Faenza-based team also confirmed that Ricciardo would be returning to the side for the first time since 2013, to complete the remainder of the 2023 season.

As a result, Ricciardo has been in the AT04 this weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix, alongside Yuki Tsunoda.

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Junior driver Lawson is also at the Hungaroring, with him having been spotted on the pitwall.

Lawson is Red Bull’s official reserve driver and their leading junior driver, leaving some surprised that he wasn’t given De Vries’ seat.

Horner though, has defended the decision not to promote Lawson mid-season.

Lawson is currently competing over in Japan in the very competitive Super Formula series, which is seen by many as the closest comparison to F1.

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The New Zealander has been having a sensational maiden season in the series, which he currently sits second in.

Lawson is just a point behind championship leader Ritomo Miyata, whilst he’s also won three of the last six races.

Red Bull ultimately didn’t want to “throw” Lawson into a difficult position at AlphaTauri, given that they have one of the worst cars on the grid.

Lawson making his debut mid-season would’ve also put the driver on the backfoot, with Red Bull seemingly being keener to promote him to the sister team for next season.

He’s expected to make the move to AlphaTauri in 2024, something which would give him the chance to try and clinch the Super Formula title this season.

Ricciardo’s performance in the recent Pirelli tyre test also gave Red Bull confidence that they could put the Aussie in the AT04 for the rest of the season, something which Horner admits made “logical sense” given his experience.

“Liam’s doing a great job out in Japan,” Horner said on the F1 Nation podcast.

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“We felt it was perhaps unfair to throw him into a situation where we put him straight into a car like that.

“So I think it made logical sense, subject to the tests going ok, for Daniel to step up into that cockpit.

“By lap seven of the test, he had already confirmed that.”