Liam Lawson’s impressive start to life in F1 has impressed the person that matters most: Red Bull’s Dr. Helmut Marko.
The Kiwi racer was dropped into the AlphaTauri seat alongside Yuki Tsunoda midway through the Dutch Grand Prix weekend, taking over the second AT04 after Daniel Ricciardo broke a metacarpal bone in his left hand in a crash.
Despite his lack of preparation or experience, Lawson impressed by keeping his nose clean throughout a very tricky Zandvoort weekend – coping with the changeable weather with ease, and bringing home his car safely.
Helmut Marko: Liam Lawson has been a great replacement
With Ricciardo on the sidelines for, at least a few more weeks as his hand recovers, Lawson has been given a golden opportunity to impress his Red Bull bosses – something he did once again as he all but matched the vastly more experienced Tsunoda in qualifying at Monza, before only narrowly missing out on a point in the race as he finished 11th.
“Unfortunately, it’s a fairly complicated fracture,” Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko told ServusTV after Monza, when asked about Ricciardo’s recovery prospects.
“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.”
While Ricciardo had looked the most likely candidate for a full-time seat with AlphaTauri next season, Lawson’s impressive form – combined with his youth – could make him a more attractive proposition than Ricciardo, whose recent form remains in doubt following two tough years with McLaren.
“Lawson has been with us for some time,” Marko said, “and he is a true New Zealander, just like Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren. 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 is really is someone for the future.”
Helmut Marko: Where will Liam Lawson be in 2024?
Lawson remains in contention for the Super Formula title in Japan, where he has been racing this season, and Marko said the Kiwi has the opportunity to impress top brass at Red Bull to be taken into consideration for a full-time role next season.
“He is now second in the Super Formula in Japan – a very tough class,” Marko said.
“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 [in 2024]? 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.”