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Lawson understands why AlphaTauri chose Ricciardo over him for F1 seat

Red Bull junior Liam Lawson says he understands why he was overlooked in favour of Daniel Ricciardo to replace Nyck de Vries in AlphaTauri’s revised 2023 Formula 1 line-up.

Liam Lawson, Carlin

Off the back of his early success in Super Formula, Lawson had been thought of as a contender to make the step up to F1 as early as this year in the event that Red Bull elected to replace de Vries amid the rookie’s struggles.

But Ricciardo was instead given the nod to step in for de Vries for the final 12 races of the 2023 campaign, with AlphaTauri making it clear it favoured an experienced driver to help lift it out of its current slump.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Fuji Super Formula race, Lawson says his goal remains to use his performances in Japan to convince Red Bull he is worthy of a step up in 2024, although he admitted a mid-season promotion would have been difficult.

“I always wanted to complete the season here [in Super Formula],” Lawson told Autosport. “My goal was to get a seat for next year. 

“To jump in mid-season would have been extremely tough and, in AlphaTauri’s position, they were wanting someone experienced who has been in Formula 1 for a long time. So I understand their decision.

“But this [Super Formula] is what I am focused on. Any shot I have at Formula 1 rides on how I do here. So I have to complete the year in the best way possible, and try to win this championship, which is what will give me the chance. 

“I need to make sure I do everything I can to give myself the best opportunity. And then, if it doesn’t happen, I can say there’s nothing more I could have done.”

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Pirelli

Ricciardo’s arrival fulfilling AlphaTauri’s desire to have a more experienced driver appears to leave only the seat occupied by Yuki Tsunoda as a potential avenue for Lawson in 2024.

Asked if Ricciardo beating Tsunoda over the remaining races of the F1 season would be the ideal outcome for him, Lawson replied: “I just need a seat, and whoever’s seat it is, I don’t really care! 

"I am just focused on this, it’s what [Red Bull] has told me to focus on as well. The expectation is for me to go and win the championship, and then we’ll discuss it.”

Lawson reiterated that he feels ready to make the step up to Formula 1, having served as Red Bull reserve driver since the middle of the 2022 season.

“I’m the reserve driver this year, by the end of the year I will have been the reserve for nearly two seasons,” said the Kiwi.

“I’m ready for Formula 1, I want a seat. I will focus on doing the best job here so I can get that. And beyond that, it’s out of my control.”

Lawson sits second in the Super Formula standings after taking a historic debut win in the Japanese series at Fuji in April, and followed that up with a second triumph at Autopolis.

He qualified second behind Tadasuke Makino for this weekend’s Fuji race, reducing Ritomo Miyata’s championship advantage to 10 points.

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