Who will be driving at AlphaTauri in 2024? That’s the question on everyone’s mind since rookie Liam Lawson immediately impressed upon his debut. While Daniel Ricciardo was supposed to be driving for the team for the remainder of the year, his recent injury has thrown his plans of a comeback in disarray, but despite that, rumours have suggested that Ricciardo will have the seat in 2024 regardless.
All this speculation has appeared because of Formula 1 reporter, Tobi Gruner, who tweeted that Yuki Tsunoda is expected to be confirmed for 2024 as well as Ricciardo at a slightly later date.
“We expect Yuki Tsunoda to be confirmed for 2024 this week at Suzuka,” Gruner tweeted.
“Ricciardo announcement will follow later. Mick Schumacher is not an option for Williams. He’s looking for a double job – WEC driver at Alpine and F1 reserve at Mercedes.”
It would be a shame for Lawson’s momentum to halted like this, but the last time Red Bull got too excited about a driver, as happened with Nyck de Vries, they ended up disappointed and regretful. Ricciardo is far less of a gamble, and it isn’t simply because of his driving ability.
Ricciardo brings a lot of marketing and PR value which is always attractive for a team, it’s part of the reason that Tsunoda will retain his seat. Honda, AlphaTauri’s engine supplier, wouldn’t be too happy if the only Japanese driver on the grid was removed ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.
So where is Lawson to go? He’s rumoured to remain at AlphaTauri as a reserve driver and may see a return to the grid in 2025. The only team he could really join for 2024 is Williams, but they need heavy financial backing from their driver’s sponsors. It was why Nicholas Latifi had a seat as well as their current driver, Logan Sargeant.
There’s also the potential of Lawson taking Sergio Perez’s seat in 2025. The problem with that is that Red Bull have made no secret about Ricciardo’s role at AlphaTauri is basically an audition for the second seat at Red Bull.
“We’ve loaned [Ricciardo] to AlphaTauri until the end of the year,” Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, told the F1 Nation podcast.
“Obviously, our drivers are going to be Max and Checo again next year. But it’s always good to have talent in reserve.
“He firmly wants to be pitching for that 2025 Red Bull seat. That’s his golden objective. And by going to AlphaTauri, I think he sees that as his best route of starting his case for 2025.”
It certainly seems that the original plan was for Ricciardo to remain at AlphaTauri until the end of 2024, and it remains to be seen if Lawson has impressed enough for those plans to change. Though it seems unlikely as Lawson looks like he won’t have next year to show his talent the same way Ricciardo has.
All we know is that everything will become clear after the Japanese Grand Prix.