Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Lawson Understands Reasons Behind AlphaTauri Opting for Ricciardo over him to Replace de Vries

Liam Lawson says he understands the reasons why he was overlooked in favour of Daniel Ricciardo to replace Nyck de Vries for the remainder of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

Dutchman de Vries was sacked by Scuderia AlphaTauri after the British Grand Prix after failing to impress his team in the opening ten races of the season.  Alongside Logan Sargeant at Williams Racing, de Vries had failed to score points in 2023, and has now paid for his poor performances with his job.

Ricciardo, who rejoined Oracle Red Bull Racing as their reserve and test driver at the start of the year after losing his drive with the McLaren F1 Team, has been drafted in as his replacement.  He previously raced for the team under its previous guise – Scuderia Toro Rosso – between 2012 and 2013.

Lawson, on the other hand, is a Red Bull Junior Team starlet who is impressing with his driving in the Japanese based Super Formula championship.  The New Zealander has scored three victories so far in his rookie season and sits second in the Drivers’ Championship.

He has been earmarked as a future Formula 1 driver by Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko but was not chosen this time around to join AlphaTauri, a decision the multiple FIA Formula 2 race winner understands.

“I always wanted to complete the season here [in Super Formula],” said Lawson to “My goal was to get a seat for next year. 

“To jump in mid-season would have been extremely tough, and in AlphaTauri’s position, they were wanting someone experienced who has been in Formula 1 for a long time. So I understand their decision.

“But this [Super Formula] is what I am focused on. Any shot I have at Formula 1 rides on how I do here. So I have to complete the year in the best way possible, and try to win this championship, which is what will give me the chance. 

“I need to make sure I do everything I can to give myself the best opportunity. And then, if it doesn’t happen, I can say there’s nothing more I could have done.”

Lawson has been talked about joining AlphaTauri in 2024, and although the arrival of Ricciardo makes it more difficult a task, he doesn’t mind if he takes either the Australian’s seat or the seat of Yuki Tsunoda.

“I just need a seat, and whoever’s seat it is, I don’t really care!” said the New Zealander.  “I am just focused on this, it’s what [Red Bull] has told me to focus on as well. 

“The expectation is for me to go and win the championship, and then we’ll discuss it.  I’m the reserve driver this year, by the end of the year I will have been the reserve for nearly two seasons. 

“I’m ready for Formula 1, I want a seat.  I will focus on doing the best job here so I can get that. And beyond that, it’s out of my control.”