Tsunoda-Honda discussions progressing – Bayer

Liam Lawson seems poised to be excluded from Alpha Tauri’s driver roster for 2024.

After stepping into the slot left by the injured Daniel Ricciardo at Zandvoort, the 21-year-old from New Zealand has turned heads – almost equalling team mainstay Yuki Tsunoda’s season points.

This sparked chatter that Tsunoda, hailing from Japan, could be shifted to a backup role at Red Bull.

This would’ve paved a path for a 2024 pairing of Ricciardo and Lawson. However, it’s rumoured that the Red Bull-associated team is on track to announce at Suzuka that Tsunoda, 23, will continue for a fourth year in a row.

“Negotiations are reaching a final stage,” the newly appointed team CEO Peter Bayer was quoted in the Japanese press on Wednesday.

“We will be able to make an announcement soon.”

When probed if his talks were with Red Bull’s driver overseer Dr Helmut Marko, Bayer responded: “Negotiations are underway with Honda.”

Certainly, Tsunoda is championed by Red Bull’s existing engine ally Honda, but the energy drink’s squad is aiming to take full helm of its engine arm by 2026.

Questioned about the announcement’s timing, Bayer said: “Probably before the Japanese GP.”

Some might be taken aback that Alpha Tauri and Red Bull would keep the standout newcomer Lawson sidelined for the upcoming year.

Marko admitted to Blick newspaper on Wednesday: “We have a luxury problem.

“But anyone who doesn’t drive in our B team next season will be the reserve and simulator driver for all four cars.”