The 2023 Formula One season has taken an unexpected turn with the announcement that Daniel Ricciardo will be sidelined through injury, opening the door for young talent Liam Lawson to take his place at AlphaTauri.
The news came as a shock to fans and pundits alike, as Ricciardo had been tipped for a potential comeback year. However, an injury suffered during off-season training has forced the veteran Australian driver to temporarily step away from the grid, sending shockwaves through the F1 paddock.
Big opportunity for Lawson
Lawson, a New Zealand-born driver of considerable promise, has been given a golden opportunity to showcase his skills on the world stage. Previously a reserve driver for AlphaTauri, Lawson has also competed in a number of other series including the renowned Japanese Superformula series. Lawson has earned podium finishes and caught the eye of scouts and analysts.
This unforeseen circumstance propels him from a supporting role to the spotlight, giving him a chance to prove he belongs among the sport’s elite.
While Ricciardo’s absence is unfortunate, it creates a unique narrative for the 2023 season. Lawson will be able to test himself against the best drivers in the world, including formidable champions and rising stars. His performance will be closely scrutinised, not just as a replacement for Ricciardo, but as a potential future talent in F1.
Teams looking to bring in new talent will be keen to assess Lawson’s adaptability, racing skills and ability to work under the pressures that are unique to F1.
Ricciardo Facetime’s Lawson
Having stepped in for Ricciardo for several races, Liam Lawson, who will again return to the AlphaTauri car in Qatar this weekend in place of Daniel Ricciardo, has revealed that it was Ricciardo himself who told him he would be driving at the seventeenth round of the year in Losail.
Lawson had replaced Daniel Ricciardo for the previous four Grands Prix after the Australian broke the metacarpal bone in his left hand in an FP2 crash at the Dutch Grand Prix. However, Ricciardo was expected to return this weekend in Qatar, but it was Lawson who was handed another start.
“I was having lunch on Monday when I got a FaceTime call from an unknown number,” Liam Lawson explained in Qatar on Thursday.
“I was a bit confused because people don’t FaceTime randomly. So I answered and I saw Daniel’s [Ricciardo’s] face and he basically told me that he was thinking about letting me drive another weekend.
“Obviously it’s good to be back, it’s good to be back in the car this weekend, at another circuit. I’m excited.”
Lawson expected to race in Qatar
However, Lawson admitted that he expected to have to replace Ricciardo for a fifth consecutive weekend in Qatar, so he prepared in the simulator after the Japanese Grand Prix.
“To be honest, after Japan it seemed very likely that I would have to drive again, so I continued to prepare as usual. I prepared as if I was in a normal situation, as if I was going to drive,” added the New Zealander.
The target for Daniel Ricciardo’s return appears to be the US Grand Prix in Austin at the end of October, and Liam Lawson believes the Australian’s return is more than likely.
“I think Austin is definitely the target. I think it’s more likely. Obviously I can’t say for sure, but we’ve got over a week to prepare. [Just in case, but I would say it’s probably Austin.”
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