Red Bull junior driver Liam Lawson insists his full focus remains on winning the Super Formula title amid increasing speculation linking him with replacing Nyck de Vries at the AlphaTauri Formula 1 team.
Lawson was overlooked to take the place of the outgoing Pierre Gasly at the Faenza-based side alongside Yuki Tsunoda for this year but has heavily impressed since his switch to the Japanese series.
The New Zealander scored a win in his debut outing and claimed the championship lead on Sunday by taking his second victory, despite being on substantially older tires than his nearest competitors.
Meanwhile, de Vries has struggled immensely in his full rookie F1 campaign, being one of only two drivers yet to score a point as well as being accountable for numerous incidents.
Red Bull Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko piled the pressure on the Dutch driver after a poor race in Miami by outlining he had at least three weekends to improve his form, with Lawson named as one of two credible options for the seat – alongside F2’s Ayumu Iwasa – if de Vries is axed.
However, Lawson declares his current aim is fixated on clinching the Super Formula title this year and putting himself in a strong position to secure an F1 seat for 2024.
“It’s good timing in the sense it puts me in the lead of the championship, and that’s what I am thinking about at the moment,” he told Autosport.
“I want to finish the year and fight for the championship, and that will give me the best opportunity for next year.
“In terms of what’s happening [in F1]… it’s completely outside of my control. I am just happy to win today.”
Lawson, driving for Team Mugen, now upholds a narrow four-point margin at the top of the standings with five races to run after his victory at Autopolis.
The 21-year-old previously drove for the senior Red Bull team in FP1 in both Spain and Abu Dhabi last year, while also conducting an outing in AlphaTauri’s AT03 car during the 2022 Spanish and Mexican Grands Prix weekends.
Aside from winning on his debut in Super Formula 1 earlier this year, Lawson formerly crossed the line first on his maiden outings in both the F2 and DTM series.
However, the Kiwi racer was unable to secure either title, controversially being punted out of contention at the first corner of the touring car category’s season finale in 2021.