Alternative AlphaTauri line-up revealed with ‘controversial’ pick chosen by Sky pundit

Oliver Harden
AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo

AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo looks surprised in the 2023 United States Grand Prix press conference.

Sky F1 pundit Karun Chandhok believes Liam Lawson and Daniel Ricciardo would have made a more “optimum” AlphaTauri driver lineup for 2024 after the Red Bull reserve’s outstanding sub appearances. 

Lawson received an unexpected F1 opportunity at August’s Dutch Grand Prix after Ricciardo suffered a broken hand in a Friday practice crash.

Despite his limited experience of F1 machinery, Lawson excelled in Ricciardo’s absence, reaching Q3 in Singapore before claiming AlphaTauri’s best result of the season up to that point with ninth place.

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That performance came after Lawson was informed that he would not be promoted to a permanent seat for 2024, with AlphaTauri retaining Ricciardo alongside Yuki Tsunoda next season.

Lawson will remain as Red Bull’s reserve driver for 2024, but is likely to be promoted to a full-time drive in the near future.

After including Lawson in his list of the 10 best drivers of 2023, former HRT and Lotus racer Chandhok pointed to Lawson’s outstanding weekend as Singapore as an event that underlined his potential.

And he questioned whether AlphaTauri have made the right choice in keeping Honda-backed Tsunoda over Lawson for 2024.

Appearing on the Sky F1 podcast, he said: “He’s a slightly controversial one because there’s only four [sic] races as a dataset to look at.

“And you would argue that if you had only the first four races to look at, you’d have [Sergio] Perez as equal number one in the rankings.

“It is a bit tricky, but I know from my own experience how hard it is as a reserve driver to just jump in and get on with the job. I thought he did an extremely good job in high-pressure situations.

“He knew he had three or four opportunities to establish his credentials as a future Formula 1 driver and he did it.

“Being told just before qualifying in Singapore: ‘Sorry, sunshine, whatever you do for the rest of this year doesn’t matter: you’re not getting the drive next year’ – he literally got told minutes before getting in the car for one of the most difficult qualifying laps of the season where you have to have such a high level of concentration against the walls, no margin for error, and he got into Q3 and outqualified Yuki.

“To me, that alone was enough to underline his potential.

“I thought across the five races he did [well] – and Zandvoort didn’t really count because the first lap he drove in the dry was in the grand prix.

“Actually, in the races he did a better job than Yuki, frankly. recommends

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“And when you compare Liam versus Yuki – and you compare Daniel versus Yuki – did Yuki really outperform Liam more than Daniel? Or, the other way round, did Daniel outperform Yuki more than Liam did? Probably not.

“So in some ways, you feel bad that Liam hasn’t got the nod for next year.

“There’s obviously commercial reasons, I understand, why they had to retain Yuki – but you do wonder whether Daniel and Liam would have been the more optimum lineup for them going into 2024.”

Chandhok’s comments come after he claimed last month that Lawson had decided to “gamble” on securing a seat with AlphaTauri “in the early part of next year” rather than purue an opening away from the Red Bull setup.

He suggested Ricciardo could replace Perez as Max Verstappen’s in early 2024, opening up a slot for Lawson alongside Tsunoda.

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