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Lawson urged to show he is worthy of future F1 drive

Liam Lawson is set for more F1 free practice opportunities this season

Liam Lawson could be handed more F1 free practice opportunities with AlphaTauri this season

Liam Lawson has been urged to prove he is worthy of an F1 drive in the future.

After the requisite two seasons in F2, New Zealander Lawson switches to Super Formula this year when he will compete for Team Mugen.

The 21-year-old finished third in last year’s Formula 2 championship with Carlin, collecting four sprint victories along the way, although finished considerably adrift of champion Felipe Drugovich.

Despite AlphaTauri parting company with Pierre Gasly, the team opted to replace the Frenchman with an ‘outsider’ in Nyck de Vries rather than recruiting from its own junior pool.

Lawson was the obvious candidate for promotion but was overlooked as team principal Franz Tost turned to de Vries after the Dutch driver proved himself on his debut with Williams last year.

Standing in for Alex Albon after he sustained appendicitis ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, former F2 and Formula E champion de Vries finished ninth at Monza.

Assessing what is now required of Lawson for his future, Tost said: “He has to show that he can do it.

“When he was testing for us, he did a reasonably good job.

“We have to give him time, we have to prepare him, and then we will see.

“In the end, I always say every driver has it in his hands to show whether he can come into Formula 1 or, for whatever reason, he can’t do it.

“The driver must be very professional, he must do a lot of training and be prepared in a really good way because nowadays, Formula 1 is really very competitive.”

Ricciardo “theoretically” in running with AlphaTauri

Lawson enjoyed three FP1 outings last season – two with AlphaTauri in Belgium and Mexico and one with Red Bull in the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi.

The latter was a result of him being promoted to reserve driver in June after Red Bull dispensed with the services of Juri Vips after he aired a racial slur during a Twitch live stream event.

Red Bull has since hired Daniel Ricciardo as its reserve driver for this year, although AlphaTauri has retained him.

Tost has confirmed Lawson will again drive in FP1 sessions this year, pending his Super Formula commitments, whilst Dennis Hauger could also be given an opportunity. The Norwegian drives in his second F2 season with MP Motorsport this year.

Tost, meanwhile, has confirmed Ricciardo is unlikely to come into the reckoning for a run-out with his team.

Asked directly if the 33-year-old Australian was in contention for an outing, Tost said: “Theoretically, yes.

“Practically, I don’t hope so because there are young drivers like Liam Lawson, like Hauger.

“I think we will primarily be focused on the young drivers because that’s within our capacity.”

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