Losing out on a 2024 AlphaTauri drive, Bernie Collins has told Liam Lawson not to drop his head as he could still put his name on “someone else’s wish list for next year”.
After weeks of speculation, AlphaTauri announced their 2024 driver line-up on Saturday morning at the Suzuka circuit with the team confirming Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo. As for Lawson, he’ll be AlphaTauri and Red Bull’s reserve driver.
The news comes in the wake of Lawson’s incredible points-scoring finish at the Singapore Grand Prix where the substitute driver, filling in for the injured Ricciardo, brought his AT04 home in ninth place to record the team’s best result of the championship.
Could Liam Lawson still knock on Williams’ door?
Collins, however, doesn’t believe all is lost for the Kiwi as she feels there is still scope for him to secure a race seat at a rival team.
Declaring Lawson had put in the “perfect interview” with his points-scoring finish at the Singapore Grand Prix, she told Sky Sports F1: “It is very difficult. It’s very hard to have done the performances that he’s done and not in a way be rewarded for it.
“He did the best interview he could’ve given for that job, really. And it continues, he’s got two more races to go.
“I have to think the situation changed but we don’t know when that started.”
While it had been rumoured that Lawson and Ricciardo could make up the team’s 2024 line-up, AlphaTauri instead opted to retain Tsunoda for a fourth season.
Collins says Lawson should now work on getting on “someone else’s wish list”.
“But let’s see where it goes forward,” the former Aston Martin strategist added. “He still has to put in the performance, he still needs to get himself on someone else’s wish list for next year or beyond.”
The big question with that is would Red Bull be willing to loan him to a rival team for a season or two. And for that matter, would Williams – the only team with an unconfirmed seat – want a driver for a limited time.
After AlphaTauri’s announcement, Logan Sargeant’s seat at Williams is the only question mark on next year’s grid. And it wouldn’t be the first time Williams have borrowed a Red Bull driver.
The team did so in 2022, signing Red Bull driver Alex Albon who, after an impressive first season with Williams, cut ties with Red Bull to sign a long-term extension with the Grove team.
Did Lawson pay the price for Tsunoda’s inexperience?
With Red Bull’s ties with Honda, even in the midst of the Tsunoda rumours it seemed inconceivable that Red Bull would drop him from their junior team.
That could ultimately have been what cost Lawson as former F1 driver turned pundit Anthony Davidson says a Tsunoda and Lawson combination would’ve been too inexperience given the team needs someone to push their development.
“I think at the end of the day, you have Liam Lawson be a remarkably good super sub – but that’s all he is for now, a sub for Danny Ricciardo. And when he’s better, he will return, and I think that’s only fair,” Davidson said.
“Daniel had a great race on his return when he arrived at AlphaTauri, a great race in Budapest, and then not such a great race at Spa. So it’s a bit mixed but that’s just a small snapshot.
“So Lawson is just a substitute, and he’s very young, he’s inexperienced, but so is Yuki Tsunoda, he’s young and still inexperienced.
“So at some point, I guess what the team wants is that level of experience of developing a car and relying on a number one driver.”
He added: “If you put Lawson and Tsunoda in the car, you might be missing that extra bit of experience that you really do need to lean on.”