Clear Williams driver candidate plotting potential Red Bull return in early 2024

Oliver Harden
Sergio Perez, Red Bull

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez flashes past as darkness descends at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Liam Lawson will turn down any approach from Williams for next season having decided to “gamble” on featuring in Red Bull’s plans in F1 2024.

That is the view of Sky F1 pundit Karun Chandhok, who believes Lawson may be banking on Red Bull replacing Sergio Perez with Daniel Ricciardo at some point next year.

Lawson made a great impression during a five-race cameo in the injured Ricciardo’s absence following F1’s summer break, claiming AlphaTauri’s best finish of 2023 up to that point with ninth place in Singapore.

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However, the New Zealander will revert to being Red Bull’s reserve driver at the start of 2024 having being denied a promotion to a permanent seat.

With the only unconfirmed seat remaining on the 2024 grid, Williams have been linked with a move for Lawson to replace Logan Sargeant, who registered just one points finish over the course of his debut season.

Williams previously signed Alex Albon on an initial loan from Red Bull in 2022 before the Thai driver agreed a long-term deal with the team for 2023.

However, Chandhok is convinced that Lawson is prepared to wait patiently for an opportunity and is hoping for Red Bull’s patience with Perez to snap in early 2024.

Appearing on the Sky F1 podcast, he said: “I don’t think Lawson will take the Williams opportunity because he genuinely is keeping an eye on that Red Bull thing.

“What happens? Do they start the season with Checo? If that doesn’t work out, do they stick Daniel in the Red Bull? In which case, do they put Liam in the AlphaTauri?

“From Liam’s standpoint, he’s going: ‘Hang on a second, I might take this gamble here and not upset the Red Bull family.’

“Because you can’t sign with Williams – even on loan for Red Bull – and then leave mid-season, so I think he’s gambling on something opening up perhaps in the early part of next year.” recommends

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Chandhok was hugely impressed by Lawson’s performances during his short stint racing for AlphaTauri, pointing to his debut at the Dutch Grand Prix – which came at short notice after Ricciardo suffered a broken hand in Friday practice – and his point-scoring exploits in Singapore as the highlights.

He said: “I think he’s done an outstanding job. He had a few opportunities.

“We went to speak to him on the grid at Zandvoort. He’d done zero laps in the car in the dry, he was about to start his first-ever grand prix.

“He’d not even had time to speak to his mum and dad on the phone, he told us, because they were in New Zealand and he was absolutely flat out, but he was really cool and calm on the grid.

“I thought his performance in Singapore [was particularly impressive]. We know now that he got told, basically on his way to the garage to get in the car for qualifying, that he was not going to be in Formula 1 next year.

“[Red Bull advisor] Helmut Marko dropped the bad news as he was about to get in the car for qualifying – and he got in the top 10.”

Chandhok’s comments come after Williams appeared to accidentally confirm their 2024 driver lineup at the finish of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, team principal James Vowles telling Sargeant over team radio that he is “looking forward to the winter together and many more.”

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