Red Bull junior Lawson set for Super Formula move
Red Bull protege Liam Lawson is set to race in Super Formula next year with title-winning Honda outfit Team Mugen.
The current FIA Formula 2 racer looks poised to become the first member of the energy drink giant’s Junior Team to race in Super Formula since Juri Vips at the end of 2019.
Motorsport.com understands that Lawson, who sits seventh in the F2 standings with only next weekend’s Abu Dhabi finale to run, will partner two-time champion Tomoki Nojiri at Mugen as he bids to impress for an opportunity to step up to a seat at AlphaTauri in 2024.
Red Bull Junior Team boss Helmut Marko has been quoted by German publication Auto Motor und Sport saying that Lawson will combine his season racing in Japan with F1 reserve duties next year.
As previously reported by Motorsport.com, Mugen is taking over the Red Bull programme from Team Goh in 2023, reviving a partnership that ran from 2017-21 and saw the likes of Pierre Gasly, Dan Ticktum and Pato O’Ward race in Japan.
Vips only made one race outing in Super Formula at the end of 2019 as Japan’s COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented him from taking up his seat in 2020, with Ukyo Sasahara taking his place that year.
Hiroki Otsu then drove the Red Bull-liveried car for 2021, before Ren Sato was chosen to represent the brand this season driving for the newly-formed Team Goh squad.
Lawson’s impending arrival at Mugen is almost certain to leave Sasahara, who matched Nojiri’s tally of two wins this season, in need of another drive within the Honda stable.
However, Team Goh’s expected exit from Super Formula and anticipated reduction to a nine-car stable, combined with the impending arrival of HPD scholarship winner Raoul Hyman, means seats are at a premium.
A third car at Mugen has been mooted but appears unlikely to materialise as the required funding is not in place.
Lawson may not be the only current F2 racer to contest Super Formula next year, as Theo Pourchaire is in the frame to replace Sacha Fenestraz at Kondo Racing.
Pourchaire looks set to at least take part in the post-season rookie test at Suzuka on December 7-8, although the Frenchman also appears to have the option of staying in F2 for a third season with his current ART Grand Prix team.
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