Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has said “things can move quickly” regarding Liam Lawson’s chances of securing a 2024 Formula 1 seat with AlphaTauri.
Amid a trying year for AlphaTauri that has seen Red Bull’s second-string side slump to the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship, the struggling Nyck de Vries was axed midway through his rookie season.
The Dutchman was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo, who returned to the Red Bull fold at the beginning of this year after being ousted from McLaren at the end of 2022.
However, Ricciardo’s comeback has been cut short by an FP3 crash at the Dutch Grand Prix that witnessed him sustain a break to his left hand, placing him on the sidelines.
Marko has confirmed comments made by Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner that asserted the Australian was unlikely to return before the Qatar Grand Prix in October.
When asked by ServusTV for a timescale on Ricciardo’s absence, Marko said: “Unfortunately, it’s a fairly complicated fracture.
“The assumption is six weeks, and we don’t want to take any risks with that. Luckily we have found a great replacement in Liam Lawson.
“I expect him (Ricciardo) to be able to race again in Qatar at the earliest. Singapore and Suzuka are especially two races that are the most difficult for the hand.”
Ricciardo’s injury has provided an opportunity for Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson to step up and embark upon his maiden F1 grand prix outings.
The Kiwi survived mixed conditions at Zandvoort with limited running to reach the chequered flag before narrowly missing out on the top 10 at Monza, having also qualified within a tenth of team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.
“Lawson has been with us for some time and he is a true New Zealander, just like Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren,” Marko said. “He takes a tough but smart stance in battles.
“He really is a man for the future. He could have won points (at Monza) if his strategy had been good at AlphaTauri. We unfortunately have to note that.
“He certainly had the speed, and he really is someone for the future.”
Having been overlooked for an F1 seat with AlphaTauri over the winter and when de Vries was axed, Lawson has been competing in the Japanese Super Formula series.
The 21-year-old is currently second in the standings, eight points behind Ritomo Miyata with only a double-header round at Suzuka – home of the F1 Japanese Grand Prix – to go.
With neither of AlphaTauri’s 2024 F1 seats confirmed yet, Marko has left the door open on the possibility of Lawson turning his current position into a permanent one.
“He is now second in the Super Formula in Japan – a very tough class,” Marko discussed.
“Those cars are faster than in Formula 2, but because it is in Japan, there is not much attention to it here. Maybe he can still win there.
“Whether he will be in a car (full-time) or be a reserve driver? As we have already seen, things can move quickly, and we only have four seats.
“He has shown that he is good enough for Formula 1, and now he has to confirm that in the coming races.”
Horner added during the Monza weekend: “Well, it’s a great opportunity for him [Lawson]. I mean, for any driver to get themselves in a Grand Prix car, you’ve got to make the most of it. And this is a golden moment in his career, for him to demonstrate what he’s capable of.
“So, we’re obviously following his progress very closely. And, you know, Daniel’s misfortune was Liam’s good fortune. So you know, it’s down to him to make the best use of it.”