Lawson to continue as Ricciardo’s substitute at Qatar Grand Prix

Formula 1

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Liam Lawson will remain in AlphaTauri’s line-up for this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix.

He has occupied the seat alongside Yuki Tsunoda since Daniel Ricciardo broke his hand during practice for the Dutch Grand Prix in August.

In the four grands prix Lawson has contested so far he has scored two points, reached Q3 and never finished lower than 13th.

Ricciardo had only been in the AlphaTauri AT04 for two weekends before his injury, having replaced the underperforming Nyck de Vries. His best finish until that point was 13th.

To see if he was ready for a return in Qatar in terms of strength in his hand, Ricciardo recently did a simulator session at AlphaTauri’s Faenza headquarters. Following that, it was determined that he would not be back in the cockpit this weekend and he now has an extra two weeks to rest his hand before the United States Grand Prix.

Before being called up to make his Formula 1 debut, Lawson was combining his reserve driver duties for Red Bull with racing in Japan’s top-level Super Formula series. He sits second in the standings ahead of the double-header Suzuka season finale at the end of this month having won three of the seven races held so far.

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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27 comments on “Lawson to continue as Ricciardo’s substitute at Qatar Grand Prix”

  1. May as well just leave Liam in the car for this year and let Ricciardo continue with his recovery without putting pressure on coming back too early.

    1. That wouldn’t necessarily serve much purpose, if RB does that they’re essentially leaving Ricciardo to get rusty all over again while letting Lawson play around and miss his chance of winning the Super Formula Championship (whose final weekend of the season clashes with the Mexican GP) which he has a realistic chance of winning btw. By having Ricciardo in the car they give both him and the team a headstart for next year, which Alpha Tauri might very much need.

      1. Yeah, since they have already decided on having Daniel in the car for next year, as @xenn1 mentions, there is not much to be gained by having Liam drive (and he might get back to Japan in time to fight for that title too) while for Daniel it will be really good to get back in a groove ahead of the winter pause

    2. Was about to say the same. Ricciardo is already confirmed for next year, might as well give the seat to Liam for the rest of this season as he’s doing a stellar job as a rookie. This also gives Ricciardo plenty of time to heal properly.

  2. He sits second in the standings ahead of the double-header Monza season finale at the end of this month having won three of the seven races held so far.

    The Super Formula season finishing at Monza would be fun, but the double header is more conveniently at Suzuka.

    This coincides with the Mexico City Grand Prix, so presumably Ricciardo will be brought back then.

    1. Or the US GP if he’s ready.

      1. Do you expect him to be ready? Mexico is more realistic. No point rushing back like Stroll did.

        1. @eurobrun Yes, because by that point, the lead time from Dutch GP weekend should’ve been more than enough for wholly healing.

  3. As expected, but to be precise, AlphaTauri doesn’t have a simulator, so drivers in that team have always used Red Bull Racing’s.

    1. notagrumpyfan
      3rd October 2023, 19:16

      I recall you expected it to be Qatar :p

      1. That ‘was’ the case until the news about him likely not returning there either on the Japanese GP weekend.
        Until that point, I was wholly confident, but not anymore afterwards, hence an unsurprising outcome.

        1. notagrumpyfan
          3rd October 2023, 21:20

          I should ask you for the lotto results after the drawing ;)

          1. notagrumpyfan – Good joke.
            Simon – I still don’t get your number references.

        2. “As expected…” and as usual, now backtracking on the previous off the mark “prediction”…

          Let’s see here: #1 and #5 ticked off

          1. Still persisting with this stalking campaign and harassment?

  4. I’m not convinced Ricciardo is the better option, even without a hand injury.

    Lawson – the lowest finish (with more opportunities to fail) is 13th.
    Ricciardo – the highest finish (with years of F1 experience) is 13th

    AT development based on driver feedback – by Tost’s statements, many failings identified by de Vries from the moment he got in the car.

    So far, AT seem to have got decent development from the driver they binned, little better than the incumbent paid-for-by-the-engine-supplier driver from the replacement, and decent performance from the stand-in who only got in because the replacement got injured.

    Sorry, Daniel is a nice, cheery character, but I’m still not seeing the value.

    1. Coventry Climax
      4th October 2023, 0:43

      I agree.

    2. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
      4th October 2023, 7:22

      Out of the 4 alpha tauri drivers this season, Tsunoda is the least valuable.

    3. i agree, Ric havent been veryimpressive in a long time. I also think Lawson would be a better choice from a racing perspective. But there may be other factors at work here, Ric is a popular driver and brings lots of fans to the brand.

      1. @maisch Liam has also instantly become very popular. I think unfortunately for Liam, decisions were made over summer break. There will be concerns around Perez’s performances and Danny is the most suitable replacement if something immediate is required.

        1. Liam who?

    4. The raw data on highest/lowest finishes for each driver ignores that Lawson was driving an upgraded car.

      That said, I don’t disagree that Lawson is the better choice, not only based on his performance and future potential, but also from the point of view of the purpose of Alpha Tauri and the Red Bull Junior Programme.

      1. Everyone else has brought upgrades too…

    5. That’s because Ricciardo is instrumental for something else; replacing Perez. You wouldn’t want Lawson or Tsunoda next to Max, we’ve seen what happens then with Gasly and Albon. What RBR needs is a Bottas. They thought they found one in Perez, but he didn’t live up to it. So Ricciardo needs to get back on pace, is moved to RBR and then Lawson can build up his career to potentially replace Max in due time. That is what Alpha Tauri should be doing; funnelling in/testing future champions.

  5. Coventry Climax
    4th October 2023, 11:24

    @geemac

    Indeed, it’s quite difficult to compare the two when the car underneath them is changing over time.
    However: Lawson finished two positions higher up than Tsunoda in Zandvoort, his first race, and under very tricky circumstances. That was a car that was set up and intended to be driven by Ricciardo. He finished 11th in Italy, with a DNS for Tsunoda, 9th in Singapore, with another retirement for Tsunoda, and 11th in Japan, with a 12th for Tsunoda.
    It’s not that Tsunoda has made giant leaps forward due to the upgrades, but there maybe too little data to draw conclusions.
    And then, even if Alpha Tauri brought updates, so did the other teams, so it’s hard to tell how effective AT’s upgrades really are, in relation to the other teams. Also, it’s hard to tell whether the AT ‘originally’ suited Ricciardo’s driving style, and what direction the upgrades took: Towards Ricciardo or away from him. Obviously, it’s the same for Lawson, but his results are decent nonetheless, given he’s a rookie and the AT is clearly still not the best of cars.
    I -personally- seriously doubt Ricciardo would have done any better, but we’ll see once he’s back. Too bad the comparison has to go via Tsunoda though, instead of directly.

  6. By the end of this weekend RB will have wrapped up the wdc and the wcc. So, Lawson can happily replace Perez for the remaining races , or at the very least, for one or two. That would give some idea of his potential in the top car on the grid.

  7. Crap it! I want Ric back :(

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