Liam Lawson is suiting up once again for AlphaTauri this weekend for the Qatar Grand Prix as Daniel Ricciardo’s injury stint continues.
The New Zealand youngster took the place of Ricciardo after he suffered several fractures in his left hand during an ugly crash in qualifying at September’s Dutch Grand Prix.
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The 34-year-old underwent surgery with AlphaTauri and Red Bull cautious not to rush the Aussie back into action, giving him as much time as possible to recover from the complex hand injury.
There had been some hope of Ricciardo being back on the track in Qatar, but he will miss this weekend’s race as he targets a return in America later in October.
Lawson has been behind the wheel of the AlphaTauri in the Netherlands, Italy, Singapore, Japan and now Qatar.
But it’s how he found out about driving in Qatar that has left the Formula 1 world in hysterics.
“On Monday, I was sitting at lunch, and I had a random number call me, and it was a FaceTime, so I was really confused … I answered it, and it was just Daniel’s face,” The Athletic’s Luke Smith wrote.
Ricciardo went on to tell Lawson he would be driving again this weekend in a truly bizarre cold call reveal.
Lawson will race every session in Qatar to ensure he gets practice for qualifying, which will be held before the sprint race.
It’s extremely rare for a reserve driver to get such an extended run on the F1 grid, and Lawson has taken the opportunity with both hands.
The 21-year-old Kiwi has beaten AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda in every race he’s been in and managed to score world championship points by finishing ninth at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Lawson has finished 13th, 11th, 9th and 11th in his races so far, compared to Ricciardo’s 13th and 16th in his two outings before getting injured.
But despite Lawson’s strong performance, AlphaTauri opted to stick with Ricciardo and Japanese youngster Tsunoda for a fourth season as their full-time drivers for 2024.
The announcement has left Lawson out in the F1 wilderness as Red Bull team principal Christian Horner insisted the talented youngster will have plenty to do as Red Bull and AlphaTauri’s reserve driver.
Horner has also moved to shut down speculation Lawson could be poached by Williams.
There has been no rush for Ricciardo to get back driving in F1 since he’s locked in for a full-time driver next season.
It would be a surprise if Ricciardo isn’t back for the United States Grand Prix on October 21-23, given his affinity for all things Texas at the Circuit of the Americas.
He will also be determined to recover for the first ever Las Vegas Grand Prix that is set to take over Sin City in November.
The Qatar sprint race will take place early on Saturday morning, before qualifying on Sunday and the race proper on Monday at 4am (AEDT).