Liam Lawson speaks out on Red Bull snub for F1 2024 season

Thomas Maher
AlphaTauri's Liam Lawson pictured during the Japanese Grand Prix.

AlphaTauri's Liam Lawson pictured during the Japanese Grand Prix.

Liam Lawson will serve as Red Bull’s reserve driver in 2024, having been overlooked for a full-time race seat in favour of Daniel Ricciardo.

Getting his opportunity to replace Daniel Ricciardo for five races as the Australian suffered a broken metacarpal in a practice crash at Zandvoort, Lawson became a late contender for a full-time 2024 seat with AlphaTauri.

But the Kiwi driver missed out, with Red Bull choosing to stick with Yuki Tsunoda and Ricciardo for 2024, and will instead sit on the sidelines as reserve driver for both Red Bull teams next year.

Liam Lawson ‘doesn’t know’ when next F1 opportunity will come around

Appearing on the Beyond the Grid podcast, Lawson opened up on some of the frustrations he’s felt after coming so near to realising his dream of being a full-time F1 driver, only to just miss out despite doing everything right.

Asked what his plans are for 2024, Lawson laughed as it was pointed out he can’t even do free practice sessions as a ‘Young Driver’ anymore as he has exceeded the maximum permitted two Grands Prix that the rules allow for such participation.

“I can’t do any of the free practice sessions anymore,” he ruefully said.

“I don’t know truthfully, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll get to drive again and, if there is, I don’t know when it’ll be.

“Right now, because I’ve kind of raced in most championships, even been in F1, I can’t really go to do F2 again, there’d be no point.

I can’t do Super Formula again. I could, but there’s less benefit from doing it. So I think it’s full focus on being reserve. That means a lot of simulator, which, for me, I think what helped getting into Formula 1 and adjusting to it so quickly has been [due to] two years now nearly as reserve.

“So I’ve done lots of simulator work over the last couple of years. That will just continue now into next year, and getting to learn and basically absorb, being alongside the best team in F1 right now – I get to sit through all the meetings and learn how they operate.”

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Having missed out on a 2023 race seat in favour of Nyck de Vries towards the end of last year, then to miss out to Ricciardo when De Vries was dropped, and then to Ricciardo again for 2024, Lawson said he’s been able to deal with the frustration by applying logic to each decision.

“I think that’s what’s potentially helped through each scenario,” he said.

“Yes, it’s extremely frustrating but I’ve been able to sit there and go, ‘I can understand, at the time of this decision, why this makes sense’.

“That goes back to De Vries last year. At that point, we were having a shocking F2 season. We turned it around at the end. But it was all too late and we had a really good end to the season, I had good testing in F1 but, by then, the decision was made so that’s frustrating.

“But, at the time that the decision was made, I could sit there and understand why, just because of how my season was. Then this year as well, although I’m having a much better season, you have the option mid-season, in a team that’s struggling quite a bit with the car, you have the option of somebody who’s never been in Formula 1 to jump in midseason or somebody who’s very experienced in F1 and has won races.

“Again, it’s frustrating to take but I can sit there and go, ‘OK, I can make sense of this decision and understand it’.

“I would say it’s frustrating to not be driving next year, but I will continue to make the most of still being in F1, involved at least. I’m a Red Bull driver. If I ever get a chance in F1, it’ll be through Red Bull Racing and, most likely at some point, I don’t know honestly, but I think it would be with Red Bull that they give me my shot.”

Scoring his first F1 points in Singapore had bolstered Lawson’s apparent chances at a 2024 seat, but the Kiwi revealed he’d already been told he wouldn’t be in the AlphaTauri and that it had taken away from the magic of such an achievement.

“Yes, it was a really good feeling knowing that, potentially I’d made a big step in trying to achieve [a full-time seat],” he said.

“But I also knew before Singapore that I wasn’t driving next year, I knew that basically, I wasn’t gonna get the seat. I found out before qualifying, the timing wasn’t great.

“It was tough because the media and everybody didn’t know. So we had a good qualifying and the media was really positive and basically saying all these great things about what chances I have of driving next year, but I knew I wasn’t. I think it was a similar feeling after the race. I knew that I wasn’t going to be in next year, so it definitely took away from what it would have felt like.”

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