Liam Lawson has piled the pressure onto AlphaTauri duo Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries after kicking off his Super Formula career with a victory in Fuji.
The Red Bull junior driver is currently the AlphaTauri test and reserve driver but has his sights set on a full-time drive in 2024 and has made the choice to take part in Japan's Super Formula series in order to make this dream a reality.
The Super Formula to F1 route has been the path less travelled in recent years with the latest crops of F1 rookies all taking the conventional journey through the F1 feeder series ladder.
However, the cases of Stoffel Vandoorne and Pierre Gasly, both of whom competed in Super Formula on their journeys to F1, will give Lawson hope as he looks to impress the Red Bull hierarchy.
Now Lawson has taken the first steps to secure his place with the AlphaTauri team in 2024, winning on his Super Formula debut at the opening round of the season in Fuji.
Lawson's dream debut
Lawson's maiden Super Formula qualifying session was a success on every level as the New Zealander finished the session third-fastest, just two-tenths slow than team-mate and reigning champion, Tomoki Nojiri.
The 21-year-old battled his way through to the front, lunging up the inside of Toshiki Oyu to take P2 before snatching the lead off team-mate Nojiri.
A late safety car ensured that the race ended under yellow flag conditions, meaning Lawson would emerge victorious on debut in Fuji.
Tsunoda and de Vries will now be feeling the heat, especially with the latter yet to score points since making his AlphaTauri debut in Bahrain at the season opener.
Lawson will take even more encouragement from de Vries' route to the seat, with both he and Colton Herta, the team's other fancied target, both taking unconventional routes to F1.
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