Liam Lawson’s Baptism Of Fire Shows He’s Ready To Take Daniel Ricciardo’s Formula 1 Seat

The first of many for the emerging star.

Liam Lawson’s Baptism Of Fire Shows He’s Ready To Take Daniel Ricciardo’s Formula 1 Seat

Image: Getty

Starting the day at the back of the grid, Red Bull rookie Liam Lawson secured a P13 finish in his debut Formula 1 race at Zandvoort.

During the Qualifying round, AlphaTauri’s on-loan driver Daniel Ricciardo was forced to retire from the Dutch Grand Prix, after a collision with compatriot Oscar Piastri left him with a fractured left hand.

Lawson, who sits second in this year’s Super Formula standings, was thrown in at the deep end, experiencing just one practice session on the Saturday before the race on Sunday afternoon.

“It was a little bit sketchy,” Lawson said after the race. “The conditions were all over the place. Rolling up to the grid, it started raining. It definitely wasn’t the best feeling. But throughout the race, I was obviously learning a huge amount.”

“The first part wasn’t the best. We lost a lot of time with the stacking in the pit stop, and then the penalty. That’s all part of it, obviously.”

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Lawson’s debut was a baptism of fire; penalties and less-than-favourable wet conditions were cause for concern but Lawson secured a respectable P13 ahead of his more experienced AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

AlphaTauri bosses will have been impressed by the way the young driver handled himself – and the worst car on the grid – with little notice.

Lawson will continue to race in place of Daniel Ricciardo at next week’s Italian Grand Prix, after Ricciardo underwent surgery on his hand. And there’s a growing excitement at what the young AlphaTauri driver can do with a full weekend under his belt.

The future of the young Kiwi driver has been a major source of debate in recent months, with AlphaTauri and Red Bull committed to playing musical chairs throughout the 2023 season. But recent performances in Super Formula will have piqued the interest of Red Bull bosses Helmut Marko and Christian Horner, who will soon be looking to have their four-driver line-up secured for 2024.

“You always look back and reflect on this and there’s definitely things I would have liked to do better but I think yeah, I’m reasonably satisfied.”

Liam Lawson

The plain truth is AlphaTauri has had more drivers this season than points scored, and for a team that’s so intrinsically linked to Red Bull fighting at the front of the grid, results this season have fallen far below expectations.

Daniel Ricciardo’s injury has certainly come at the worst time for the Australian driver, whose lofty F1 ambitions concern the teams further up the grid. But for AlphaTauri, Lawson’s emergence could just come at the perfect time.