The man who gave Liam Lawson his first opportunity in European racing has urged Helmut Marko to promote the New Zealander to Red Bull as Max Verstappen‘s teammate for the 2024 season – or even sooner.
Lawson raced for Van Amersfoort Racing in 2018 ADAC F4 and after his fantastic cameo for AlphaTauri five years later as Daniel Ricciardo‘s replacement, boss Frits van Amersfoort believes the 21-year-old deserves a shot in the top team.
Speaking on Formule1.nl’s Paddock Chat podcast, Van Amersfoort was asked whether he was surprised at Lawson‘s Formula 1 success.
“I did expect that, I thought he could do it because he is mentally well suited to it,” Van Amersfoort said.
Asked whether he thinks Lawson should replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull, he added: “Right away. He starts in the car in the same way as Max.
“I would dare to do that but my name is not Helmut, nor do I have the resources Helmut has at his disposal. But I would rather do that than someone who brings only history. Liam can only do well, in my opinion.”
Frits founded his eponymous team in 1975 and they’ve been a staple of national and regional European racing ever since, winning 17 championships over that timespan.
And they’ve been on the F1 bill since 2022, competing in F2 and F3, and have recorded top 10 finishes in both championships in 2023 thanks to Richard Verschoor and Caio Collet respectively.
Lawson didn’t manage to add to that championship tally in his solitary season with the team, finishing second in Germany to the Iron Man helmet-toting Lirim Zendeli, but was still mightily impressive and earned an F3 seat with MP Motorsport for the following year.
And Lawson‘s now become one of the hottest names in F1 thanks to his superb run at AlphaTauri, beating Yuki Tsunoda 3-1 in races before Ricciardo‘s return ended his season.
There’s rumours he could replace Logan Sargeant at Williams – the only officially unconfirmed seat for 2024 – while Perez‘s position at Red Bull remains uncertain despite his contract running for another season.
Van Amersfoort sees Lawson-Senna comparison
Lawson never reached his full potential on the F1 support bill, recording finishes of 11th, fifth, ninth and third in two seasons of F3 and F2 respectively, but has flourished outside of it.
He followed up his ADAC F4 success by becoming the surprise champion of the Toyota Racing Series – a gem of a championship that often acts as a tune-up for the European season and counts Lando Norris, Lance Stroll and Robert Shwartzman as previous winners.
After failing to convince Red Bull in F2, Lawson was sent to Super Formula for 2023 and is in contention to become just the second non-Japanese champion in over a decade.
A member of the Red Bull academy since 2019, the Kiwi’s unfortunate that his best junior racing performances have come away from the F1 weekend, but he put all of that doubt to bed with his brilliant stint at AlphaTauri.
“Liam stole my heart, I think that’s such a nice chap,” Van Amersfoort added. “I can still picture him when he came in from New Zealand in 2018 – shorts on in winter, white sports socks pulled up high.
“He totally lives for the sport. I believe New Zealanders fit the motorsport picture perfectly, they’re like the people in motorsport in the 1970s and ’80s.
“To achieve success in motorsport, they always have to go tremendously far away. [Ayrton] Senna also had to leave beautiful, warm Brazil for rainy, dark England. They have to cross that barrier and make a lot of sacrifices.”