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Red Bull faces AlphaTauri F1 driver dilemma as CRUNCH decision looms

Red Bull faces AlphaTauri F1 driver dilemma as CRUNCH decision looms

Red Bull faces AlphaTauri F1 driver dilemma as CRUNCH decision looms

Red Bull faces AlphaTauri F1 driver dilemma as CRUNCH decision looms

AlphaTauri's crazy 2024 driver-seat Rube Goldberg machine that began with Nyck de Vries' Formula 1 dismissal had another element added to it after the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix.

Liam Lawson is an F1 point-scoring driver following the New Zealander's Marina Bay heroics to cross the line in P9.

Furthermore, he created headlines on Saturday after his Q2 effort kicked Max Verstappen out of the top 10, creating an unpredictable grid that battled for the race win.

Showing such potential only three rounds into his F1 career means that Lawson has cannonballed, rather than thrown, his hat into the ring for a 2024 seat.

Daniel Ricciardo showed that he's no slouch with his cameo appearances in Hungary and Belgium.

However, the Australian might be sweating that his injury could cost him a chance of a full-time comeback next year.

Then we have Yuki Tsunoda continuing to grow as a driver by taking the underpowered AlphaTauri to three top-10 finishes over the season.

He hasn't completed a racing lap since the Dutch GP, but that's from poor luck outside the Japanese driver's control.

That's three worthy drivers without 2024 contracts with two seats available, meaning that, sadly, one of these names has to lose out.

READ MORE: AlphaTauri announce F1 RETURN for Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo is recovering from a broken hand after his crash in Zandvoort

After 2022's popcorn-worthy silly season, 2023 is about as entertaining as watching an RB19 win by half a lap while managing tyres.

Not so for the AlphaTauri drive, though, with the team in the enviable position of having too much talent to kick-start their new era under Laurent Mekies' stewardship.

With Alfa Romeo holding firm with their driver lineup for 2024 by extending Zhou Guanyu's contract and team radio suggesting Logan Sargeant might keep his seat, the Faenza-based outfit are the only ones without any confirmed drivers for next year.

They can't easily follow suit with the other eight teams that confirmed they're continuing with the same drivers because one of their seats has had three drivers occupying it in 2023.

Yuki Tsunoda has scored three world championship points in 2023

Tsunoda knows the team best, having spent three seasons racing there, so he could arguably bring some much-needed consistency for a year when even the team's name will change.

Is he the next Verstappen-level driver, though? Or might Lawson be the best hopeful to boost the Bulls?

However, there's no denying Ricciardo is the only driver of the three that can help with development from his experience racing for other teams and seeing how other cars work.

Lawson and Tsunoda's only F1 driving knowledge comes exclusively from the cockpit of an AlphaTauri, limiting their ability to suggest new ideas and lead the team in the way the honey badger might.

On the other hand, Ricciardo isn't getting any younger, and at 34, he is over a decade older than his two rivals for the 2024 drive.

Liam Lawson has made an immediate impression since replacing Daniel Ricciardo

Time is ticking

A Tsunoda-Lawson pairing would show that Red Bull still has faith in its Junior Team approach of bringing up young talent to one day drive for the headline team, something that's stalled in recent years.

Ricciardo would represent looking to the past to pave the future, and you have to wonder whether he'd ever rejoin Red Bull Racing as one of the sport's oldest drivers — he's seven months older than Perez, for comparison — when the Christian Horner will want to line up an heir to Verstappen.

The coming weeks will be critical for Lawson, who looks set to get his fourth grand prix start at Suzuka, as he could claim another impressive finish in the Japanese GP and become the 2023 Super Formula champion.

Pierre Gasly found his way to F1 after finishing just half a point off the Super Formula title in 2017, so you have to think Lawson would be a no-brainer choice for the seat if he takes the crown.

There's a case for each of the three drivers, meaning AlphaTauri, or whatever their next name is, can't lose.

Call me old-fashioned, but this looks like a prime opportunity to stick the trio in a 2022 car at the Imola circuit just 15 km from AlphaTauri HQ and give contracts to the two that set the fastest lap.

Whatever happens, I'll be shocked at whatever the 2024 lineup is — in a season with few surprises, that's a welcome change.

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