Liam Lawson climbing into the RB20 as Sergio Pérez speculation grows

Liam Lawson climbing into the RB20 as Sergio Pérez speculation grows

On Thursday Liam Lawson will climb into the RB20 to take the track at Silverstone. The session is one of Red Bull’s allotted “filming” days for the 2024 season, and the second such program the team has implemented this year.

But it comes as questions persist about their driver lineup for the second half of the season.

Lawson’s Silverstone shakedown of the RB20 was previously scheduled and part of Lawson’s reserve duties with the team, and not recently added to Red Bull’s calendar. But the timing could not be worse from a speculation standpoint, as it comes on the heels of a difficult tripleheader for Sergio Pérez that has renewed concern that the Red Bull driver could be dropped from the team as Red Bull fends off challenges atop the Formula 1 grid.

Over the three races of the tripleheader, Pérez banked just 11 points and was outscored by Haas driver Nico Hülkenberg who added 16 to his account over the same stretch. That has led to some voices around the sport wondering if Pérez will still be in the RB20 following the summer break. “They can’t let it go on forever. If at the next race he doesn’t score points again, soon enough, they will have to get him out of the car and put someone else in,” said Jenson Button following the British Grand Prix. “It’s not a nice feeling for a driver. It’s tough. For a driver it’s horrible but for them the constructors’ is important.”

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner assured the media last weekend that the tests had been planned for months in advance, and not just added to the schedule as a result of Pérez’s form.

“Those tests have been planned for some time so they’re not something that have just sprung up, they’ve been planned for a couple of months now,” said Horner to Sky Sports F1 following the British Grand Prix.

However, Horner also went on to say that Pérez’s current form is “unsustainable” if Red Bull is going to mount a successful title defense.

“[Pérez] knows it’s unsustainable to not be scoring points – we have to be scoring points in that car, and he knows that,” said Horner after the British Grand Prix. “He knows his role and his target, so nobody is more eager than Checo to find his form again.

“It’s something we’re acutely aware of, that to win the Constructors’ Championship you need both cars scoring.”

The Red Bull boss went on to note that the pressure is only increasing on Pérez, as a result of his “underdelivering” in the RB20.

“Checo, of course, he’s under pressure – that’s normal in Formula 1 – but when you’re underdelivering, that pressure only mounts, and he’s aware of that,” added Horner on Sunday. “He knows that.”

Red Bull thought they were putting questions about Pérez’s future to bed with the new contract that was announced ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix. But this run of poor form has only seen those questions renewed, while teams such as Ferrari, McLaren, and recently Mercedes have put continued pressure on the entire team at the top of the grid.

And now Lawson is climbing into the RB20.

How convenient.

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