Liam Lawson has leapt from being nearly overlooked to a focal point in Formula 1 in a remarkably short time.
Just last month in late July, as Red Bull was parting ways with underperforming Alpha Tauri newcomer Nyck de Vries, Dr. Helmut Marko opined that it would have been “certainly wrong” to yank 21-year-old Kiwi Lawson from the Super Formula circuit in Japan.
Presently, Lawson, who is backed by Red Bull, sits second overall in the Super Formula standings with just a single race remaining at Suzuka—which coincides with F1’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Nonetheless, Alpha Tauri has confirmed that Lawson—who debuted in F1 at Zandvoort—will occupy Daniel Ricciardo’s car for the duration of the Australian driver’s recovery from a hand fracture.
“He is an option now for Alpha Tauri,” former F1 pilot Ralf Schumacher shared with Sky Deutschland.
“Dr. Marko rates him highly, while others see it a little differently. His weekend at Zandvoort was ok – he made the most of it.”
However, another ex-F1 driver and current Dutch GP executive Jan Lammers believes Lawson’s rapid emergence could be making Ricciardo uneasy.
“It’s quite a worrying development for Ricciardo,” Lammers told NOS.
“He (Ricciardo) was already under scrutiny for the rest of the year. He had to put the pressure on (Sergio) Perez ahead of 2024, but now this could have a bigger impact than he may realise.
“Lawson is already doing very well under difficult circumstances,” Lammers added.
“If he scores a point at Monza now, that could well be a big blow for Ricciardo, because then Red Bull have the perfect driver to move on to next year.”
Moreover, Lammers speculated that an Alpha Tauri seat might not be Lawson’s only 2024 option, suggesting he could even challenge Perez to become Max Verstappen’s next teammate.
“He has a very good track record and I think Red Bull are quite daring. I’m not sure it’s a risk at all,” he insisted.
And should Lawson continue to dazzle in Ricciardo’s absence, other teams like Williams might express interest.
“When we saw (Logan) Sargeant so devastated at Zandvoort, I got the impression that there had already been a meeting where his future had been decided – to his disadvantage,” Schumacher noted.
“That’s just my feeling, but Williams will be interesting for many drivers. I even think that if Nico Hulkenberg had had the chance to go there, he would have signed.”
Another potential replacement for Sargeant at Williams is Schumacher’s own nephew, Mick Schumacher.
“I wouldn’t read too much into the rumours,” Ralf Schumacher cautioned.
“There are many drivers who want to get into Formula 1.”