Formula 1 Racing

Lawson believes he wasn’t first choice as Ricciardo substitute

Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri, Zandvoort, 2023

In the round-up: Liam Lawson believes Red Bull want to place a different driver at their junior team when he made his Formula 1 debut as a substitute at last year’s Dutch Grand Prix.

In brief

Red Bull wanted more experienced driver at Zandvoort – Lawson

Lawson said he urged Helmut Marko to let him make his F1 debut at Zandvoort last year after Daniel Ricciardo was injured during practice on Friday. He met with Marko earlier that day.

“I’d just had a massive crash in Motegi but other than that the season was going strong,” he told The Red Flags. “I’d been doing all the Formula 1 work and everything was going good and I basically decided in this meeting, I’m going to sell myself to him and basically tell him why I think I should be in the car.

“So I spent 20 minutes doing that and asking him why he wouldn’t put me in for 2024 and all these kind of things. And so he basically, I think, just started to get a bit pissed off. Then I left and then the crash happened like an hour later.”

Although Lawson was officially the reserve driver for Red Bull’s junior team AlphaTauri (since rebranded as RB) he believed they were lining up someone else to replace the injured Ricciardo. “It was so weird because I knew that they were deciding on what to do,” he said. “And I also know that when when they were deciding on what to do, I was reserve, but they were deciding on not just me to come back. There was potentially other drivers they were going to pull back for the weekend.

“So I was like, I need to get in front of Helmut and Franz [Tost, team principal], I need to get in front of these guys and basically act like I’ve got all of this confidence that I could just get in.

“Because at Zandvoort, because it was like such a big one to learn quickly, everything like that, they could have bought somebody in that was a lot more experienced.”

“They were going to do that,” he added. “And so basically I need to act with all this confidence. And I found Helmut and he was talking to Franz, and Helmut just looked at me, I like walked up in their conversation and he just looked at me like, are you ready? I was like, ‘yep’.”

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