Motorsport: Kiwi Liam Lawson put forward to step into Formula One if Red Bull axe struggling Nyck de Vries at Alpha Tauri

Kiwi Liam Lawson's name has been put forward as a contender to step into Formula One, should Red Bull lose patience in current Alpha Tauri driver Nyck de Vries.

Lawson, 21, was overlooked to replace Pierre Gasly for Alpha Tauri at the end of 2022, as de Vries moved from Mercedes' reserve role to take the seat for Red Bull's sister team.

Italian-based Alpha Tauri is the secondary team for Red Bull, the reigning team champions led by dual world driver's title holder, Max Verstappen.

Liam Lawson.
Liam Lawson. Photo credit: Getty Images

As a result of missing the chance to step into Formula One, Pukekohe-native Lawson has achieved instant success in Japan, racing for Team Mugen in Super Formula.

In his debut race at Fuji, Lawson overtook teammate and Super Formula champion Tomoki Nojiri for victory in his first taste of racing in Japan, and has backed it up with fifth and fourth-placed finishes in the season's second and third races.

After three races, Lawson is currently third in the Super Formula championship with 35 points, seven behind championship leader Nojiri.

However, de Vries' struggles to start the new Formula One season - currently sitting as just one of two drivers yet to score any points from the first five races of the year - has seen a warning from Red Bull's head of development.

Speaking to F1-Insider, Dr Helmut Marko outlined that Lawson, or current Formula Two driver Ayumu Iwasa of Japan, will step into de Vries' seat at Alpha Tauri, while ruling out former Red Bull and McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo altogether.

"We have spoken to De Vries and he is of the same opinion as we are: He has to improve," he said. 

"The gap to team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, who is doing a great job, is too big.

"To use footballer's language: Nick got the yellow card, but not the red one yet. If he improves, a change of driver will not be an issue.

"If the worst came to the worst, we would fall back on our pool of young talent. 

"We are talking specifically about Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa. Ricciardo is not an issue."

Lawson has already test driven for both Alpha Tauri and Red Bull's senior side, before moving to Japan for the 2023 season.

The Super Formula season continues next week, with round four at Autopolis in Oita.