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SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 22: Liam Lawson of New Zealand and Scuderia AlphaTauri prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on September 22, 2023 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202309220142 // Usage for editorial use only //

Horner: Gritty racer Lawson is a talent for the future

SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 22: Liam Lawson of New Zealand and Scuderia AlphaTauri prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on September 22, 2023 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // Horner: Gritty racer Lawson is a talent for the future// Usage for editorial use only //

Liam Lawson has a future in Formula 1 after doing an outstanding job as a substitute for injured Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told reporters at Suzuka on Friday.

At this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, the 21-year-old New Zealander is competing in only his fourth F1 race and has already produced the Red Bull-owned team’s best result of the season so far with ninth place in Singapore last Sunday.

AlphaTauri look likely to continue with Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda and experienced Australian Ricciardo in 2024, although there has yet to be an announcement, leaving Lawson’s future somewhat unclear.

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Apart from AlphaTauri, Williams are the only team with a possible vacancy if they decide not to retain underperforming American rookie Logan Sargeant.

“I think he’s done an outstanding job,” Horner replied when asked about Lawson. “Zandvoort was a bit of an eye-opener for him, but I thought he did well there. A week later in Monza, he was unlucky to miss out on a point and then seeing Singapore for the first time and scoring a couple of points.”

Horner: We know that he is a gritty racer

SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 22: Liam Lawson of New Zealand and Scuderia AlphaTauri prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on September 22, 2023 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202309220145 // Usage for editorial use only //

“Liam grabbed this opportunity in F1 that very seldom drivers get a chance to demonstrate their talent. I think he’s done a tremendous job and has put himself firmly on the radar and cemented the feeling that we had about him,” stated Horner.

Asked whether Lawson deserved to race in 2024, the team boss said Red Bull had the ‘luxury problem’ of three drivers and two places at AlphaTauri: “He will be a grand prix driver, he already is a grand prix driver, at some stage. Whether he has to wait a little for that or not, I think he’s demonstrating that he is a talent for the future.”

Williams’ other driver Alex Albon, now a team leader on the track and increasingly highly regarded, previously raced for Red Bull with a deal brokered between the teams to keep him on the starting grid.

Ricciardo, 34, has his sights on replacing Sergio Perez alongside Max Verstappen at the main Red Bull team from 2025 while Tsunoda is backed by Honda, who will become Aston Martin’s engine partner in 2026. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)