Sky F1 pundit Anthony Davidson fears Yuki Tsunoda’s Italian Grand Prix DNS will make it tough for Red Bull and AlphaTauri to form a proper evaluation of Liam Lawson’s performance at Monza.
Having stood in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo at short notice at last month’s Dutch GP, Lawson participated in a full F1 race weekend for the first time in Italy.
Lawson qualified one place and a couple of tenths behind Tsunoda, but AlphaTauri were forced to field just one car on race day after Tsunoda slowed to a smoky halt on the formation lap.
Liam Lawson’s encouraging start continues at Monza
The New Zealander recovered from a slow start and a late collision with Oscar Piastri’s McLaren to finish 11th, just 6.6 six seconds behind Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas who scooped the final point for 10th.
Appearing on Sky F1’s post-race television coverage, former BAR-Honda and Super Aguri driver Davidson believes Tsunoda’s premature exit may ultimately count against Lawson.
He said: “Some good overtakes there as he worked his way back through the field, so he didn’t lose his nerve when he got a bad start.
“The only problem to him, of course, is that he didn’t have his team-mate as a reference throughout the whole race.
“As soon as we saw Tsunoda go out, I’m sure that was a negative effect, I feel, for Liam Lawson because I can’t look at the job he did today and have a barometer.
“So maybe the car was better than what he showed, we’ll never know.”
Davidson’s fellow pundit Naomi Schiff feels Lawson’s competent start to life in F1 has justified his position as Red Bull and AlphaTauri’s reserve driver, signalling out the Super Formula category – in which the Kiwi had been competing in 2023 prior to his F1 call up – as a fine training ground for grand prix hopefuls.
She added: “I think he’s committed to it and really shown that he can be a solid driver – reliable reserve driver – for Red Bull if that at least.
“He’s having a fantastic season in Super Formula out in Japan, it’s a really great Championship to prepare these young drivers for a Formula 1 seat – it’s almost between an F2 and an F1 car in terms of speed and performance.
“He’s just showing that he’s got what it takes.”
Lawson himself was disappointed to miss out on points at Monza and took the blame for his poor start.
“It’s a bit like finishing second when you’re when you finish P11, just one place [away from] points. I think we potentially had the pace today,” he remarked.
“A couple of things went wrong – the start wasn’t so good, so that’s something we need to look into. I’m guessing probably something from my side procedurally.
“The pace wasn’t too bad. To be honest, I don’t really know where the race went away from us, but a little bit disappointing not to finish in the points.”
Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, provided a bleak update on Ricciardo’s recovery from his broken hand, indicating the Australian driver is unlikely to return in time for the upcoming races in Singapore and Japan.
That means Lawson is almost certain to remain in place at AlphaTauri until at least the Qatar GP weekend in early October.