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Lawson to test 2024 Red Bull F1 car, rumours intensify over Perez future

Liam Lawson is set to test Red Bull’s current Formula 1 car at Silverstone next week, has learned, as the rumour mill intensifies over Sergio Perez’s future at the team.

Perez is under pressure to lift his game off the back of a disappointing run of form that has left his team bosses frustrated.

The Mexican has not finished on a non-sprint podium since the Chinese Grand Prix, and has contributed just 15 points out of Red Bull’s tally of 116 from the last five races.

While Red Bull is doing all it can to help Perez try to rediscover the form he had at the start of the season, talk has ramped up at the British GP that the team is also evaluating potential Plan B options in case it feels it needs to draft someone else in.

This situation has triggered speculation that RB driver Daniel Ricciardo could make a sensational return to Red Bull in a swap with Perez after the summer break.

However, this is understood to be wide of the mark with the Australian having not delivered all that was expected of him since his full-time return to F1 this year.

Red Bull had hoped that Ricciardo would step things up and prove that he justified a return to the main squad he left for Renault at the end of 2018. That has not happened, and, with Ricciardo currently fighting for his future at the Faenza-based outfit, there is believed to be little belief that he is an option for Red Bull.

There are not many other available top options out there, but one possibility could be for Red Bull to promote reserve driver Lawson to the main squad if it feels it needs an alternative to Perez – either later this year or next season.

Liam Lawson and the Red Bull Drone 1 piloted by Ralph Hogenbrik, Shaggy FPV

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

That idea has now been given some credence with it emerging that Lawson is scheduled to drive an RB20 at Silverstone on Thursday as part of a Red Bull filming day.

This will be the second of the two Promotional Event testing days that teams are allowed each season.

While the run is being billed as a marketing event, it will not be lost on the team that the 200km of running that Lawson will be allowed to do is more than enough to evaluate his potential – especially at the same track where the team will have run this weekend.

Twelve months ago, following the British GP, Red Bull used a Pirelli tyre test to similarly look at Ricciardo’s potential in last year’s RB19. His performance that day was enough to convince the squad to draft him in as replacement for Nyck de Vries, who had struggled to make an impression at AlphaTauri (now RB).

Lawson hugely impressed during his five outings at AlphaTauri last season, which included a ninth-place finish at the Singapore GP, after Ricciardo injured his hand practicing for the Dutch GP.

That form saw him emerge as a prime candidate to replace Ricciardo later this year, if the team felt it needed to shake things up.

But with Ricciardo showing improved form in recent races that could secure his place for now, a Lawson move to Red Bull could be a way of keeping the New Zealander in the family amid talk that he could contractually be free at the end of the year if he does not secure a race seat with the energy drinks giant for 2025.

Speaking to Sky F1 at Silverstone, Red Bull boss Horner made no bones of the fact that the team needed Perez to deliver more after suggesting that he had been “nowhere” for the last five races.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, arrives at the track with Liam Lawson, Reserve Driver, Visa Cash App RB F1 Team

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, arrives at the track with Liam Lawson, Reserve Driver, Visa Cash App RB F1 Team

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

“This is a sport where there’s no hiding, particularly with Max Verstappen as your team-mate,” said Horner.

“He knows he’s being measured against the very best and we need him up there supporting Max because there’s two McLarens now, there’s two Ferraris, and there’s two Mercedes. We need there to be desperately two Red Bulls.”

While Perez has a contract in place for 2025 and 2026, it is understood that performance-related clauses could give Red Bull scope to replace him if he fails to hit the necessary targets.

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