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Formula 1 Qatar GP

Lawson found out via Ricciardo FaceTime that he would race in F1 Qatar GP

Daniel Ricciardo surprised Liam Lawson via FaceTime to tell the AlphaTauri Formula 1 substitute driver that he would be required to race again in the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix.

Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri

Ricciardo broke a metacarpal in his left hand during a practice crash at Zandvoort, which paved the way for 21-year-old Kiwi racer Lawson to make his F1 debut in the Netherlands.

The Kiwi, who sits second in the Super Formula standings, has impressed during four cameo appearances, with his rapid adaption capped by scoring two points for finishing ninth in the Singapore GP.

With Lawson taking a backseat next season by occupying a reserve driver role for Red Bull - AlphaTauri having re-signed Yuki Tsunoda and Ricciardo for 2024 - he will make what is expected to be his final substitute appearance in Qatar, which is a sprint race event, this weekend.

But he only found out he would be racing on Monday after picking up a “random” video call, which turned out to be from eight-time GP winner Ricciardo.

“I was sitting at lunch and I had a random number call me and it was a FaceTime," said Lawson.

“I was really confused because people don’t just FaceTime randomly, so I answered it and it was just Daniel’s face!

“He basically said that he thought he’d let me have another weekend. Obviously good to be back, good to be in the car this weekend. I’m excited.”

Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri AT04

Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri AT04

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

As Ricciardo travelled immediately from Zandvoort to Spain for surgery, initially Red Bull team boss Christian Horner suggested a delayed Qatar return made the most sense since the immediately-preceding Singapore and Japanese events ran as a quick-fire double-header.

But AlphaTauri has left it up to Ricciardo to decide when he is fit enough to return, and this has now been deferred to the United States GP in Austin, Texas later this month.

“To be honest, after Japan, it was looking more likely that we’d be driving so we just carried on preparing like normal," added Lawson

“I didn’t assume I was driving but we prepped like a normal situation like I would be. It’s a bit different. I want to be here full-time but just trying to make the most of this.

“I think [Austin] is definitely the target [for Ricciardo]. I think that’s more likely.

“Obviously, I can’t say for certain, but we have over a week to get more time to be ready for it. So, I would say it’s probably Austin.”

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