‘Oscar Piastri-level’ Red Bull junior cannot make ‘better interview’ for F1 2024 seat

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull and AlphaTauri reserve driver Liam Lawson in the paddock at Marina Bay. Singapore, September 2023.

Singapore: Red Bull and AlphaTauri reserve driver Liam Lawson in the paddock at Marina Bay. Singapore, September 2023.

Sky F1 pundits Bernie Collins and Karun Chandhok waxed lyrical about Liam Lawson as the Red Bull junior continues to impress in his AlphaTauri audition.

Daniel Ricciardo’s practice crash at Zandvoort opened the door for Lawson to make his debut at AlphaTauri, with Ricciardo expected to be out of action after sustaining a broken hand until at least the Qatar Grand Prix.

And Lawson sure has not disappointed so far, his P11 finish last time out at Monza taking him ahead of Ricciardo and Nyck de Vries, who Ricciardo replaced, in the Drivers’ Championship.

Liam Lawson could not give “better interview”

On the basis that Ricciardo does return for Qatar, this means Lawson has this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, plus the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, to prove that he deserves a full-time drive with the Red Bull junior team in F1 2024.

And former Aston Martin strategy chief Bernie Collins believes he could not be doing a better job in his bid to secure that seat.

“What an interview for Liam Lawson,” Collins declared, “like you cannot get a better interview for the seat you want than the performances he’s currently putting in.

“At Zandvoort on the grid, for his first start coming up, he looked remarkably relaxed. And this is another test to him. So it’s going to be interesting, and Daniel is here to make sure he’s on top whenever he does get back in.”

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Another F1 2023 rookie who has been earning great plaudits is McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, a driver who already has been name-dropped as a potential future candidate for Red Bull with his McLaren contract up at the end of 2024.

And former F1 racer Chandhok places Lawson at the same level as Piastri.

“I’ve been watching Liam for a few years, I’ve known him quite well for a few years, I think he’s a super talent, I think he’s in that sort of Piastri league,” Chandhok declared.

“A bit unlucky in F2, should have been a championship contender, got quite unlucky on a couple of occasions, but I think he’s a super talent and very pleased to see him making use of the opportunity so far.

“He’s got a very finite window because he knows at some point Daniel will say ‘okay, my hand is better and I’m going to get back’ and then that window shuts for him to prove he deserves a seat full-time.”

Lawson himself has acknowledged that window of opportunity to make his mark, so Chandhok was pressed on whether such pressure is really coming from Lawson upon himself, or the Red Bull driver programme, with patience not something which the boss Helmut Marko possesses much of.

“I think it’s a combination,” Chandhok suggested, “because the Red Bull programme has a catalogue of drivers that they can put in those seats.

“There are only four seats, one of them we know Max [Verstappen] is well and truly locked-up. [Sergio] Perez likely to be locked-up in the other one.

“So I think Liam’s got the right attitude. He’s like, okay, just make sure you don’t make any big mistakes, chip away on the practice sessions, but I have four qualifyings and four races, to prove to Helmut that he deserves a seat next year.”

Yuki Tsunoda is the only AlphaTauri driver to have scored points so far in F1 2023, his tally of three making up the entirety of the team’sdisappointing total.

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