Lawson downplays F1 rumours after Super Formula victory

Jaden Diaz
21 May, 2023

With just five rounds complete in the 2023 season, speculation about the F1 grid is beginning to intensify. AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries is under increasing pressure, and Red Bull reserve Liam Lawson is seen as a potential replacement.

There was nothing but praise for De Vries over the winter break, with Franz Tost and Helmut Marko appearing confident that the Dutchman was fast enough to fill a similar role to Pierre Gasly’s at the team.

However, the 28-year-old is being comprehensively outmatched by teammate Yuki Tsunoda at this stage of the season – lacking the pace or consistency of the youngster on the opposite of the garage.

Considering De Vries’ age and the frequently ruthless nature of the Red Bull driver chain, his future in the sport is already in jeopardy if improvements do not arrive quickly.

Helmut Marko did little to calm the situation in a recent interview, outlining that stronger performances would be necessary to avoid a mid-season swap.

In the event of a driver change, Ayumu Iwasa and Liam Lawson were named as the two leading candidates to join AlphaTauri at the expense of an underperforming Nyck de Vries.

AlphaTauri Team Principal, Franz Tost & Red Bull Advisore, Helmut Marko

MONTREAL, QUEBEC – JUNE 19: Scuderia AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost talks with Red Bull Racing Team Consultant Dr Helmut Marko on the grid during the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 19, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec. Peter Fox/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Peter Fox / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

A recent victory in Super Formula, putting the Kiwi driver in the Championship leader, is surely a boost for his chances of being considered for an F1 opportunity.

However, speaking post-race, Lawson refused to be drawn into speculation about his future:

“It’s good timing, in the sense it puts me in the lead of the Championship, and that’s what I am thinking about at the moment,” Autosport quotes him as saying.

“I want to finish the year and fight for the Championship, and that will give me the best opportunity for next year.

“In terms of what’s happening [regarding opportunities at AlphaTauri]… it’s completely outside of my control. 

“I am just happy to win.”

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 08: Honda branding is pictured on the car of Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Scuderia AlphaTauri during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on October 08, 2022 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images ) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202210080153 // Usage for editorial use only //

Lawson’s comments show maturity, sidestepping any quotes that could become dramatic headlines and add fuel to the fire of the current situation.

However, regardless of his diplomatic comments, it is clear that De Vries is under pressure to quickly rectify his performances.

AlphaTauri is a team with the purpose of nurturing and developing young talent, so the 28-year-old must start delivering and justify why he deserves an F1 seat over the plethora of Red Bull juniors in Formula 2.

Although it is slightly early to identify a clear-cut candidate from F2 worthy of an AlphaTauri seat, the plethora of F2 juniors suggests at least one driver will put themselves in the frame.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

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