Helmut Marko reveals why Red Bull snubbed 21-year-old for Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo was controversially chosen by Red Bull to replace Nyck de Vries mid-season.

Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko has admitted that promoting junior driver Liam Lawson to replace Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri would’ve been a big “risk”, and not just for the team.

Following the firing of De Vries, it was announced that Red Bull would be loaning development driver Daniel Ricciardo to the sister team to complete the 2023 season.

This left many fans surprised, given that Lawson is the brand’s top young driver.

Lawson is currently second in the Japanese Super Formula series, with him having won three of the last six races in his debut campaign.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

Given that he’s performing so well in Japan, the New Zealander seemed like a great replacement for De Vries.

However, Marko snubbing Lawson for the Dutch driver’s seat was done to protect the driver, so that he can finish his impressive maiden campaign in Japan.

Marko will then “evaluate” Lawson’s performance at the end of the season and decide what’s next for him, with the 80-year-old being keen not to “burn Liam out”.

“With Liam Lawson, the risk would have been much greater for him and also for us,” Marko said.

Article continues below

“He’s doing very well in Japan… He can finish the championship in peace and after the end of the season, we’ll evaluate how to proceed without having to burn Liam out.”

Despite Ricciardo having been chosen to complete the season at the Faenza-based team, Lawson has been informed by Marko that he’ll be Red Bull’s and AlphaTauri’s reserve driver for the rest of the year.

As well as that, he’ll partake in the end of season young driver test for the Austrians.

READ: Watch: Frederic Vasseur slaps sticker on Helmut Marko’s forehead

Should everything go as expected, then Lawson will likely be in the Red Bull sister team on the F1 grid next season.

“We were in contact with Liam,” Marko confirmed to Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung.

“He will act as a reserve driver for both teams for the rest of the season and will complete the young driver test. So the development program is continuing and it would certainly have been wrong to tear him out of the championship.”