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Helmut Marko Revives Liam Lawson’s F1 Hopes Days After Extending Daniel Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri Stay

Published 09/26/2023, 4:45 AM EDT

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Less than a week ago, AlphaTauri officially said, “Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda will stay with AlphaTauri in 2024.” At the time, retaining Daniel Ricciardo felt like the no-brainer move. He’s experienced, and he did reasonably well in the two races he’s driven for the team. Why was his seat even in question then? Because of a 21-year-old rookie filling in for him as he recovers from a fracture. Who’s it? Liam Lawson. In the four races Lawson has driven for AlphaTauri, he’s already proven he has that F1 pedigree. Even so, Red Bull and AlphaTauri chose Ricciardo. Turns out, Lawson doesn’t need to get disheartened.

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When the New Zealander heard the news, he said, “I wouldn’t be happy to go back to being a reserve. Obviously, I want to be in Formula 1. Now I have this chance, I’m trying to do everything I can to show that I can be here.” There’s no doubt he’s done everything he can, which is why he still has a chance. 

What gives Liam Lawson the edge over Daniel Ricciardo? 


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Since Red Bull and AlphaTauri came into the picture, they’ve believed in bringing newer, younger talent into F1. Despite that belief—and as teams that don’t usually give second chances—they placed their trust in 34-year-old Ricciardo once again. Even though he’s proved an asset this year, working with both teams, it’s not a secret he’s at the fag end of his career. He literally calls his dream to race for Red Bull again a “fairytale ending.” That exact reason is why Lawson could make the official jump into F1 earlier than he expects.

In a recent interview, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko discussed Red Bull and AlphaTauri’s plans. He said, “Of course, we have to think about the future. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Checo Perez are over 30. That depends on the two of them, what their ideas are, how long they want to drive. We have to be prepared for that.” 


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Sergio Perez is contracted to drive for Red Bull until 2024. If he doesn’t pick up his performances and Ricciardo continues to prove he has it in him to drive for the works team, the Aussie could get his fairytale ending in 2025. That’ll leave the AlphaTauri seat all for Lawson’s taking. If both of them don’t perform well, and Lawson continues to shine outside F1, there’s even a possibility he could get that Red Bull seat straight away. Considering all this, it’s safe to say the 21-year-old’s F1 future isn’t too far away. 

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He may be disheartened that AlphaTauri chose Ricciardo or even Yuki Tsunoda over him, but he still has a small yet crucial victory over the 34-year-old Aussie.

Liam Lawson is a “quicker driver” than Daniel Ricciardo

After jumping into F1 at the Dutch GP, Lawson had two very good weekends there and at the Italian GP. But his performance in Singapore takes the cake. Considering it was only his third race in F1, who would’ve thought he’d be the best-placed Red Bull driver for Sunday’s race? The mighty RB19 struggled at Marina Bay the entire weekend, and everyone looked to take advantage of that. And the advantage that Ferrari, McLaren, and Mercedes got couldn’t have come without Lawson’s heroics.


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In qualifying, he was the driver to knock Verstappen out in Q2. He handed the reigning champion his first Q2 exit of the season, depriving him of the top-10 shootout. After Lawson shone in qualifying, he converted his good starting position to AlphaTauri’s best finish of the season—a P9. Discussing Lawson’s performance in his post-race debrief, F1 journalist Peter Windsor said, “Right now, to me, Liam Lawson is doing at least as good a job as Daniel Ricciardo in that AlphaTauri. I’m not sure Daniel would’ve bumped Max into P11 at the end of Q2, whereas Liam did. In my opinion, right now, Liam Lawson is probably a quicker driver than Daniel Ricciardo.” 


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Watch This Story: Daniel Ricciardo faces Red Bull prodigy threat in F1 return

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan


One take at a time

Aditi is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports and is essentially a sportsperson. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare