Liam Lawson is making himself impossible for Red Bull to ignore with another win in Super Formula.
Having finished third in last year’s Formula 2 championship, Lawson swapped to Super Formula for the 2023 season and has already set a marker down for the season ahead.
After four races, the New Zealander leads the standings thanks to a win secured this weekend at Autopolis and with Nyck de Vries facing pressure for his AlphaTauri seat, Lawson is emerging as the leading candidate should Red Bull decide to make a change.
Despite not starting from pole and with his team-mate Tomoki Nojiri absent due to a collapsed lung, Lawson was able to recover to win the race and move ahead of Ritomo Miyata in the 2023 standings.
His Team Mugen are already well ahead in the Constructors’ standings, enjoying a 42-point lead over second place TOM’S Racing.
Lawson is the second-longest current member of Red Bull’s junior team with only Dennis Hauger having joined before him and already has a wealth of experience behind him.
The 21-year-old has driven in 12 different series already and also has some F1 experience having served as reserve driver for both Red Bull and AlphaTauri. He also tested the AT02 and made his debut FP1 appearance at the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix.
Helmut Marko opened the door to a possible F1 move earlier this month when discussing a potential replacement for De Vries.
The Red Bull senior advisor ruled out Daniel Ricciardo from taking the seat and suggested that if they do make a change, they will go for youth.
“If the worst came to the worst, we would fall back on our pool of young talent,” said Marko. “We are talking specifically about Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa. Ricciardo is not an issue.”
Should Lawson make the move, he would become the 14th academy graduate to move up to the Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri seat. Of those 14, seven went on to move to Red Bull but only Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen can claim to have made a successful move up.