Ex-Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok is expecting Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson to enter 2024 in the back-up role, rather than possibly switch to Williams.
Whilst Logan Sargeant is widely expected to be kept by the Grove-based team for a second season, his seat is still yet to be confirmed, allowing rumours to continue.
Two drivers have been linked to the Williams seat and Lawson is one of them, whilst the other is 2023 Formula 2 Vice-Champion Frederik Vesti.
Vesti is already known by Williams team principal James Vowles, as he’s part of the Mercedes Junior programme.
What gives Lawson the edge over Vesti is that he’s already a proven F1 points finisher and has previously progressed to Q3, something he achieved earlier this year at the Singapore Grand Prix.
In fact, Lawson qualified ahead of both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez at the Marina Bay Circuit.
The Kiwi is viewed very highly by Red Bull and is almost certain to get a seat at AlphaTauri in 2025 or perhaps even earlier depending on how Sergio Perez performs.
Perez is set to enter 2024 as a Red Bull driver, with the Austrians keen to respect his contract.
However, it’s been reported that Red Bull wouldn’t be afraid to drop the Mexican mid-season next year, if he fails to perform consistently.
Should this happen, then Daniel Ricciardo would be the favourite to be promoted from the sister team, opening up a spot at the Faenza-based side for Lawson.
There’s no guarantee though, that Perez will be dropped mid-2024, meaning that it would be a “gamble” for Lawson.
However, it’s a gamble Chandhok expects Lawson to take, with the former driver tipping the 21-year-old to reject an offer from Williams if one is presented to him.
“I don’t think Lawson will take the Williams opportunity because he genuinely is keeping an eye on that Red Bull thing,” Chandhok told the Sky Sports F1 podcast.
“What happens? Do they start the season with Checo? If that doesn’t work out, do they stick Daniel in the Red Bull? In which case, do they put Liam in the AlphaTauri?
“From Liam’s standpoint, he’s going, ‘Hang on a second, I might take this gamble here and not upset the Red Bull family’. Because you can’t sign with Williams, even on loan for Red Bull, and then leave mid-season – so I think he’s gambling on something opening up perhaps in the early part of next year.”