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Liam Lawson will have a fifth opportunity to showcase his talent in Formula 1, as Daniel Ricciardo is not ready yet to return to action as a result of the injury he sustained in late August.
Daniel Ricciardo returned to the championship partway through the season, in a deal that would see him replace Nyck de Vries in Alpha Tauri for the rest of the season. It didn’t materialise that way though, as a crash during free practice in Zandvoort meant he had to withdraw from that round because of a broken metacarpal bone in his left hand.
Positive test for Ricciardo, but not good enough for Qatar
Between the rounds at Japan and Qatar, Daniel Ricciardo travelled to Alpha Tauri’s factory in Faenza to test on the team’s simulator for the first time since he broke his hand, as the initial plan was for him to return this weekend. Reports regarding the test mentioned that while the session went well, Ricciardo did not feel like he was driving at 100%. With his seat secure for 2024, there is no reason for him to risk things after all.
Additionally, Ricciardo will not have a good opportunity to try things out on the car during free practice, as Qatar will host the fourth Sprint weekend of the season. As such, only one free practice session will take place, meaning that Lawson would have to go into qualifying for the Grand Prix with no practice at all in case Ricciardo confirmed he would not be ready.
After Qatar, there will be two more weekends for the Australian driver to recover further before the next round of the championship, in Austin. If he is not able to race there though, Lawson will still be available to take his place.
The situation will become more complicated if Ricciardo is unable to participate in Mexico, on the weekend of October 27th to 29th. Lawson will be competing in the final round of the Super Formula championship that weekend and will be chasing the title, as he will enter the round second in the standings.
Lawson’s season so far and future plans
At 21 years of age, Liam Lawson took over Ricciardo’s seat to make his Formula 1 debut in the Netherlands, which he finished in thirteenth despite terrible weather conditions and limited preparation. Since then, he has gone on to impress scoring a couple of points in Singapore and achieving two more finishes in eleventh at Monza and Suzuka, beating his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, in the latter.
Despite his good performances though, there was no way to an Alpha Tauri seat next season for the talented and young Kiwi. Over the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, the Italian outfit announced that its 2024 lineup will be consisted of Tsunoda and Ricciardo.
For Lawson, the only opportunity to get a Formula 1 seat for 2024 is at Williams, if they elect to replace Logan Sargeant. That possibility is quite small though and the more likely scenario will see the Kiwi remain on the sidelines in 2024 as a test and reserve driver for both Red Bull and Alpha Tauri, before earning a seat with the latter in 2025.
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