Lawson uncertain about F1 reserve driver role
By Mat Coch
Thursday 2nd March, 2023 - 5:00am
Liam Lawson has admitted he’s somewhat in the dark when it comes to his exact role as F1 reserve driver with Red Bull this year.
The New Zealander has been named F1 reserve driver by the Austrian drinks brand but has confessed he doesn’t know whether that is for Red Bull Racing or Scuderia AlphaTauri.
“I don’t actually know, to be honest,” he told Mark Peard Sports in New Zealand.
“I’m a reserve driver. So I don’t know specifically what team for at the moment, and what that role obviously means to me because I’ll be racing at quite a few of the races in my own championship.”
2023 racing programme
Lawson will compete in Japan’s Super Formula in 2023, a nine-round competition featuring two double-headers (two rounds on the same weekend).
That starts the week after the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway with three events clashing with F1, namely Monaco (Autopolis), Canada (Sugo), and Mexico City (Suzuka).
Further complicating matters is that Red Bull Racing inked a third driver deal with Daniel Ricciardo at the end of last season.
There is therefore some overlap between Ricciardo and Lawson, with the former set to be on hand at the Australian GP in Melbourne.
However, the eight-time race winner cannot take part in Free Practice 1 sessions and have it count to its third driver running.
Regulations state those outings are exclusively for ‘young’ drivers with fewer than two grand prix starts.
Lawson, therefore, remains in the box seat for those, though Dennis Hauger is also in the mix for some seat time.
F1 reserve driver opportunities for Lawson
“I think it’s definitely something you can’t put me down as a full-time reserve driver for the season, because I can’t be there all the races,” Lawson said.
“But I think the goal is still to be driving an F1 car at points during the year.
“Whether it’s in free practice sessions or not, that’s still the sort of goal, but nothing’s set in stone.”
The Kiwi had three Free Practice 1 outings during 2022, two with Scuderia AlphaTauri, and one with Red Bull Racing in Abu Dhabi.
That saw him complete the Young Driver Test at the end of the season in Abu Dhabi with the senior squad.
“It was really, really cool,” he said of those opportunities.
“Especially the last two; I did the first one at Spa, was quite a tricky one, it was very damp conditions and then never really got to run the new tyre.
“Then we went to Mexico, and I wasn’t racing that weekend, I was just there as reserve, but I had a really good time just basically being there.
“I got to drive the car, I felt really, really good in Mexico.
“Then obviously going to Red Bull in Abu Dhabi I sort of had the best session, I’d say, of my year.
“It’s very, very cool,” he added.
“It’s a little frustrating at the same time because I felt really, really comfortable with the team and in the car as well.
“I know that I’m ready to step into that position but we just need to have the results in this season for that to happen.”
Lawson has been urged by Scuderia AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost to show his worth ahead of a potential F1 berth.
Yuki Tsunoda is the driver most at risk within the Red Bull framework, the Japanese driver entering his third season in the sport.
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