17 Nov 2022

Liam Lawson set for F1 practice in world champ Max Verstappen's car

9:54 am on 17 November 2022

The Formula One prospects of rising New Zealand star Liam Lawson are set to receive another boost.

Liam Lawson.

Liam Lawson on the AlphaTauri team pitwall. Photo: Photosport

F1 heavyweights Red Bull Racing are expected to confirm Lawson will step in for reigning world champion Max Verstappen in the first practice session of this weekend's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The opportunity was another sign of how highly regarded the Pukekohe racer was within the Red Bull ranks, despite the team handing Dutch driver Nyck de Vries the vacant seat at sister team Alpha Tauri for 2023.

Abu Dhabi would be Lawson's third practice session in the top tier this season, after turning out for Alpha Tauri in Mexico and Belgium.

The 20-year-old was also set to be Red Bull's representative in next week's annual end-of-year young driver test in Abu Dhabi, which he took part in last year for Alpha Tauri.

The news came in the wake of Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko confirming Lawson would leave Formula 2 and race in the Japan-based Super Formula series next year.

Marko told Autosport Lawson would benefit from the move.

"He will do Super Formula. It's a difficult place to be.

"The Japanese drivers know every centimetre, they know all the tracks, it's not easy."

As well as racing in Japan, Lawson would remain an official reserve driver for the Red Bull and Alpha Tauri F1 team in 2023.

The young New Zealander was set for a busy few days in Abu Dhabi.

Along with replacing Verstappen in the opening F1 practice and doing next week's young driver test, Lawson would be taking part in the final round of the Formula 2 season.

His mixed season had him seventh in the standings, although he was still in contention for a top three finish in his last F2 event before his shift to Japan.