Red Bull back Liam Lawson despite surprising snub

Promising New Zealand driver Liam Lawson is still eager to race in Formula 1 despite a major setback.

Red Bull Racing has maintained its unwavering belief in the rising star Liam Lawson, despite opting not to grant him an AlphaTauri seat for the upcoming 2024 Formula 1 season. 

The team’s decision on its driver lineup was unveiled early on Saturday, ending weeks of anticipation within the F1 community.

In a move that surprised some, Red Bull chose to retain its existing driver roster for the upcoming season, thereby denying Lawson a full-time race seat. 

This decision means that Yuki Tsunoda will be granted a fourth year in the sport, with the opportunity to further demonstrate his progression. 

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Additionally, Daniel Ricciardo, who had only participated in two races this year before sustaining a hand injury, will have a full year to compete for a coveted Red Bull Racing seat.

Liam Lawson, the talented New Zealander, had made a strong impression from the moment he entered the F1 scene, delivering remarkable performances in the Netherlands and Italy. 

His breakthrough moment came in Singapore, where he secured valuable points for AlphaTauri, marking the team’s best result of the season up to that point.

Despite these commendable efforts, AlphaTauri opted to adhere to its initial driver plan. 

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However, the statement confirming Lawson’s retention as a reserve driver for the upcoming year offered insight into Red Bull’s strategic vision for his future.

Franz Tost, the outgoing team principal, expressed his confidence in Lawson, stating:

“Liam, who has impressed everyone in his races so far, will definitely help the team in his development role as a third driver. 

“I’m sure he will have a future in Formula 1 soon.”

Peter Bayer, the new chief executive, echoed this sentiment, remarking, “Liam put himself in the spotlight of F1 in only three races, and I am very happy that we can continue to prepare him for his future.”

READ: Liam Lawson breaks silence on replacing Daniel Ricciardo for 2024

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, in an interview with Sky Sports before the qualifying session on Saturday, shed light on the rationale behind the decision regarding Lawson’s future. 

Horner emphasised the unique position of all these drivers as effectively belonging to the Red Bull Racing program, even when placed at AlphaTauri.

He commented, “Daniel, with his experience and motivation to come back, I think will add leadership to that team and a great benchmark.

“Yuki has been making progress and having Daniel there as that benchmark, he’ll certainly learn from that.”

Regarding Liam Lawson, Horner asserted, “Liam, it’s only a matter of time before he gets his opportunity full-time. 

“To have the three of them there is very strong for the group. [Lawson] certainly turned heads and gave us plenty to think about… he’s doing everything possible to justify a case for a full-time drive. Unfortunately, three into two doesn’t go.”