AlphaTauri’s Liam Lawson found out he would be driving in the Qatar GP from the man he’s replacing, Daniel Ricciardo, via Facetime.
Having stood in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo at the last handful of Grands Prix after the Australian broke a bone in his left hand in a practice crash at Zandvoort, Liam Lawson has been waiting patiently for the moment Ricciardo returns to the cockpit of the AT04.
Ricciardo’s return had been mooted for the Qatar Grand Prix this weekend but, with his future assured after signing with AlphaTauri for next season, no pressure has been put on Ricciardo to hurry his return to the cockpit.
Liam Lawson found out about Qatar GP via Daniel Ricciardo Facetime
With Lawson waiting to hear about whether or not he’d be driving at the Lusail Circuit this weekend as Ricciardo took part in a vital sim session last week, the Kiwi driver found out his fate last Monday as he got a call from a mystery number on his mobile.
“So I was sitting at lunch and I had a random number call me and it was a FaceTime,” Lawson told media in Thursday’s press conference in Qatar.
“I was really confused, because people don’t just FaceTime randomly so I answered it, and that was just Daniel’s face!
“And he basically said that he thought he’d let me have another weekend so, yeah, obviously good to be back. Good to be in the car this weekend. It’s a very different circuit but I’m excited.”
Despite being on a race-by-race arrangement, uncertain of whether or not he’d be in the next race on the schedule, Lawson explained that he’s been treating every break in the calendar as if he’s a certainty for the upcoming event.
“I think, to be honest, after Japan, I guess it was looking more likely that we’d be driving so we just carried on preparing like normal,” he explained when asked about whether the situation has resulted in less than ideal preparation.
“Obviously, I didn’t assume I was driving but we just prepped like like a normal situation like I would be. It’s a bit different. Obviously, I want to be here full time but I’m just trying to make the most of this.”
Daniel Ricciardo return pencilled in for United States Grand Prix
But Qatar is likely to be Lawson’s last appointment of the season for AlphaTauri, as he revealed the plan is for Ricciardo to return for Austin for the next Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time.
“I think [Austin’s] definitely the target,” he said.
“I think that’s more likely. I would say it’s more likely that he’ll be back in Austin. Obviously, I can’t say for certain. But we have over a week to give more time to be ready for it so I would say it’s probably Austin.”
With Lawson’s immediate future decided as he’s signed up to serve as Red Bull and AlphaTauri’s reserve driver, he was asked whether there’s any racing programme decided upon to allow him to dovetail his duties next year.
“Right now I think it’s more or less being discussed and being planned out,” he said.
“But, for me, it’s reserve at this stage so I’ll carry on going to Formula 1 races. But, outside of that, it will be like normal simulator work. Other than that, I’m honestly not sure right now.”
As for whether Lawson might find himself loaned out to another team, should one want him, he bluntly answered: “I don’t know, honestly.”