In a surprising turn of events, AlphaTauri announced on a fateful Saturday that Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo would be the team’s drivers for the 2024 Formula One season. The revelation sent shockwaves through the paddock, leaving fans and pundits curious about the fate of young talent Liam Lawson, who had impressed in the AT04 as a stand in for Ricciardo.
Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner was inevitably pressed for insight into the decision-making process and the reasons behind Lawson’s omission from next year’s line-up.
In a recent interview with Sky Sports, Horner was asked about Liam Lawson’s omission from AlphaTauri’s 2024 line-up and whether there were alternative routes the young New Zealander could have taken to secure a permanent seat.
Horner responded firmly: “No, I don’t think so. He went on to emphasise the importance of Daniel Ricciardo to the team,”
Horner, citing the veteran’s experience, determined attitude and high motivation as attributes that would bring strong leadership to AlphaTauri.
“I think he’s a great benchmark,” Horner added. He believes Ricciardo’s presence would not only guide the team, but also serve as a valuable reference point for Yuki Tsunoda, aiding the Japanese driver’s ongoing development.
Lawson still has a future
Acknowledging Lawson’s undeniable talent, Horner suggested that Formula One is undoubtedly in the young driver’s future.
“I think it’s only a matter of time before Liam gets his chance and a full-time opportunity,” Horner predicted.
He praised Lawson for his contributions, describing him as a “super sub” within the team. The inescapable reality, however, was that three riders competing for two places simply did not fit with the team’s logistics.
Horner also hinted that Lawson’s performance, particularly in Singapore, had caused some serious soul-searching within the team.
“He has certainly attracted attention and given us a lot to think about, especially after his performance in Singapore,” admitted Horner.
An intriguing decision
The decision to select a 34-year-old driver like Daniel Ricciardo over a promising young talent like Liam Lawson raised eyebrows in the motorsport community. Prior to qualifying at Suzuka, Horner was asked about Red Bull’s preference for Ricciardo over Lawson and whether it signalled a shift in the team’s future driver strategy.
Horner’s response was cautious and cryptic.
He was keen to point out that Red Bull’s primary objective is to field the best possible driver pairing. With Max Verstappen signed to a long-term deal and Sergio Perez’s contract running until 2024, Red Bull are keen to explore all options. He mentioned that Perez is currently on the “hot seat” and has expressed an interest in extending his contract.
The futures of Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda will be closely monitored, as will Liam Lawson’s performance in his test and reserve role.
Fan backlash and internet outcry
The decision to overlook Liam Lawson in favour of more experienced drivers sparked controversy and disappointment among fans and on social media.
Many questioned why a talent like Lawson, who had shown immense promise, was seemingly passed over for an experienced campaigner like Ricciardo.
The online reaction to Christian Horner’s and Helmut Marko’s choice has been intense, with fans expressing their disapproval and frustration at the decision. The motorsport community is abuzz with debate and speculation as to what the future holds for the young Kiwi driver and whether this decision will ultimately benefit AlphaTauri in the long run.
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