AlphaTauri CEO Peter Bayer said Liam Lawson was endorsed as “bloody amazing” by multi-time F1 winner Gerhard Berger, with Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko also a huge fan as he pushes for a 2025 seat.
A member of the Red Bull Junior Team since 2019, Lawson strengthened his ties to Red Bull’s F1 teams when he became the test and reserve driver for AlphaTauri and Red Bull Racing in 2022.
He continued to hold reserve driver duties in 2023, putting himself firmly on the radar when stepping up to the AlphaTauri line-up for a five-race spell in place of the injured Daniel Ricciardo, scoring points in Singapore with his best finish of P9.
Gerhard Berger and Helmut Marko back Liam Lawson
Lawson is thought to have a strong chance of joining the grid full-time in F1 2025, Red Bull’s driver programme boss Marko having set that as the targeted year of arrival, and it turns out he is not the only Austrian who thinks extremely highly of Lawson.
The year before taking on his Red Bull/AlphaTauri test and reserve role, Lawson had battled for and lost out on the DTM title in highly-controversial circumstances, the boss of the series at that time being Marko’s close friend Berger.
And now, speaking to Speedcafe.com, AlphaTauri CEO Peter Bayer has revealed that Berger had joined Marko in waxing lyrical about the young New Zealander, who remains Red Bull and AlphaTauri reserve driver for F1 2024.
“For me, the main impulse came through Gerhard who said that when Liam was doing DTM he was bloody amazing,” said Bayer.
“Gerhard is a big fan of Liam’s racing style. He said, ‘He’s the one. He’s going for the gap, and he’s fast’.
“Helmut was also very convinced by his natural speed but Franz [Tost, former AlphaTauri team principal] was initially a bit sceptical. He said, ‘Looking at his results, I’m not sure’.
“If you purely look at the results, he wouldn’t be a standout driver, but he has done a lot of racing, and in different categories, and again and again he was showing there was a spark. Helmut was 100 per cent, ‘That’s the guy’.
“Franz, Christian [Horner, Red Bull team principal] and I had a long discussion, and that’s how Liam got the reserve role.”
Lawson’s AlphaTauri opening came after Ricciardo crashed out during Dutch Grand Prix practice, suffering a broken hand in the process as Lawson was then handed the wheel of the AT04 in a stint of five grands prix.
But, despite the extreme pressure on Lawson, a driver knowing they “have to deliver” in an F1 opportunity, Bayer was impressed with how Lawson so effectively flicked the switch to go from a bundle of nerves in the garage, to an impressive competitor out on the track.
“Liam said that in Zandvoort he was so f***ing nervous,” Bayer stated. “He said he was like this in the car [shaky hands], but then once he got going, he was alright.
“That’s a racing driver, when suddenly the switch falls and you transform that excitement into performance.
“That’s really where you see the difference with these guys, and that’s what he is absolutely capable of. Put him in the car, that’s the switch, and he goes.”
Lawson will know an opportunity could easily open up for 2025, with Sergio Perez facing a critical year in his battle to secure a Red Bull contract extension, all while Ricciardo is lurking in the background.