Liam Lawson is Red Bull’s new Formula 1 reserve driver following the termination of Juri Vips’ contract after making racist comments.
Vips was suspended, investigated and then removed from his role at Red Bull after it was revealed that he made racist comments in a video game livestream with fellow Red Bull junior Lawson.
Lawson, who would make his FP1 debut earlier this year with AlphaTauri later in 2022, will replace his ex-Formula 2 teammate and former Red Bull stablemate Vips as Red Bull’s reserve driver.
“Liam Lawson will step into that role following the announcement of Juri Vips,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner announced at Silverstone on Saturday morning.
Lawson is racing in F2 in his second season, but struggles to set up a title challenge with Carlin.
He sits 10th in the Drivers’ Championship with a sprint race win in Jeddah and three other podium finishes – but has lost countless others to technical failures, team errors and driver errors.
Vips has kept his F2 drive at Hitech GP – a decision that led to the championship to express his “surprise” — and he’s the seventh in the series.
Vips was one of five Red Bull juniors racing in F2 this season. Jehan Daruvala – who made his F1 testing debut at McLaren last month – is the highest placed of them in third place in his third F2 campaign.
Reigning FIA Formula 3 champion Dennis Hauger took his first win in the Baku feature race to take fifth in the standings, while fellow F2 rookie Ayumu Iwasa is the lowest-seeded of the Red Bull quartet in 14th place – but has shown a lot of potential beyond the only podium he has secured with DAMS.
Horner also pointed to the strength and depth of Red Bull’s junior roster under F2, which includes Silverstone sprint race winner Isack Hadjar and Jak Crawford racing in FIA F3.
Vips replaced Sergio Perez at Red Bull for the first practice session at the Spanish Grand Prix – completing one of two mandatory FP1 outings for young drivers.
Red Bull has yet to confirm who will drive Max Verstappen’s car in an FP1 session later this year, but his new reserve Lawson would certainly be in the race.
The match says…
Lawson is the natural choice to succeed his former stable mate Vips as one of the most experienced Red Bull juniors and already a shoo-in for his FP1 debut before Vips was fired.
He has been a Red Bull junior since 2019, when he stormed onto the stage in the highly competitive Toyota Racing Series over the winter and usurped then-Ferrari junior Marcus Armstrong to win the title.
But since then, he’s struggled to deliver the same kind of championship performance — at least in single-seaters.
He has been fast and furious in his four years in FIA F3 and F2, often unstoppable and always ready to make a stunning overtake or a brave comeback, but there just haven’t been enough of those moments to to prevent AlphaTauri from sticking to its lineup for another year — once Yuki Tsunoda’s expected confirmation for 2023 arrives, at least.
With Hadjar and Crawford flying in FIA F3 and Hauger getting it together in F2, Lawson will inevitably be lining up unless he can sensationally end his second year in F2 and impress in his new role at Red Bull.
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