Lawson gets Red Bull F1 role following Vips exit

Liam Lawson

Two of Red Bull’s junior drivers look set to enjoy increased Formula 1 programmes following the axing of Juri Vips.

Liam Lawson is set to join the senior Red Bull team in place of Vips, while McLaren is working on a test programme for Jehan Daruvala.

Lawson is currently competing in the FIA Formula 2 Championship and was set to join Scuderia AlphaTauri during Free Practice 1 on two occasions this season.

Also competing in Formula 2, Daruvala appeared to have been overlooked by Red Bull’s F1 bosses, before gaining an opportunity with McLaren.

“Lawson steps into that role, obviously following the Juri Vips announcement,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

“Jehan is doing a great job and we’re just following his progress with interest as well as Dennis Hauger as well, all qualifying for superlicences.”

Hauger, it seems, is most likely to pick up at least part of the Friday role with Scuderia AlphaTauri vacated by Lawson’s promotion, though the programme is currently flush with options.

“We have Dennis Hauger racing in Formula 2, as well as obviously Daruvala remains as a junior driver despite testing with another team,” said Horner of the young drivers currently under Red Bull’s control.

“And that’s just Formula 2. Formula 3, it’s great to see Jonny Edgar back after illness, quite a nasty illness earlier this year, giving him another chance.

“Isack Hadjar is doing a super job as well, so we’ve got no shortage of talent coming through all the way from karting through the different formula.

“That’s always been a policy of Red Bull, to give youth a chance, to back youth and [give] opportunities [to] some of these kids that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to progress their careers.”

Though Daruvala doesn’t appear to immediately factor into Red Bull’s F1 plans, the 23-year-old is now part of McLaren’s considerations going forward.

The Papaya operation has no formal reserve driver on its books, and would instead lean on deals it has in place with Mercedes or Alpine should one be required.

Internally, there are options too, though they are something of an unknown in terms of Formula 1 machinery.

At the end of 2021, the squad’s IndyCar driver, Pato O’Ward, was given a test at Abu Dhabi, the first time he’d sampled an F1 car.

Earlier this year it was announced Colton Herta has signed on to complete a testing programme with the squad, though that has not yet seen him drive a car.

It’s curious then Daruvala was given the opportunity since the team already has potentials under contract, neither of whom are tied to a rival Formula 1 franchise.

“It’s actually the first time for us at McLaren to run such a TPC [Testing Previous Car] car, which we were not in a position in previous years,” explained Andreas Seidl when asked by Speedcafe.com about Daruvala’s test.

“Thanks to this change of the regulations, and together with the great partnership we’re having with Mercedes, that put us in that position.

“And you simply want to use this car now, or this project, in order to give young guys a chance to drive a Formula 1 car, and also to show us, or to put us in a position to evaluate what these days can do.

“That was the reason also for the programme we have put up with him [Daruvala], which went quite well last week in Silverstone.

“As you know, we have further runs planned in the next month with Colton, probably with Pato again as well.

“And then we will make our mind up, at some point, of who we want to give the chance and to do also a free practice session.”

It was not a one-off for Daruvala either, with Seidl revealing he’ll have further opportunities in future.

“For him, being first time in a Formula 1 car, it was a very positive start with everything we have seen,” the German said.

“And I would say a start that we can build on now together.

“We have more test days planned together with him, again, get more familiar to a Formula 1 car and where he can actually show what we can do.

“So far, so good, I would say.”

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