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Liam Lawson testing Red Bull’s 2024 F1 car in Silverstone filming day amid growing Sergio Perez pressure

New Zealander Lawson, 22, serves as reserve driver to both of Red Bull’s F1 teams and is eyeing a future full-time seat in their stable. He impressed in a five-race cameo for RB, then known as AlphaTauri, last year as stand-in for an injured Daniel Ricciardo, scoring points at his third race appearance in Singapore.

On Thursday, Lawson will be running in the current championship-leading R20 as Red Bull complete their second of two permitted filming days this year for promotional purposes when track running is limited and tightly prescribed by F1’s regulations.

As part of his 2024 reserve programme, Lawson is also scheduled to test a 2022 AlphaTauri car at Imola later this month.

“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 Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to Sky Sports F1 after last Sunday’s British GP.

“Liam is our test and reserve driver, that’s his job.

“But Checo, it’s been a horrible weekend for him.”

What’s the significance of Lawson’s test and what is a ‘filming day’?

In isolation, as Horner suggests, the upcoming runs in Red Bull Racing and RB machinery simply form the latest part of Lawson’s planned back-up role this year and are opportunities for him to get back behind the wheel on a track in a year when the youngster does not have a racing programme.

Yet, with in-season opportunities to run in current F1 machinery extremely limited, Thursday’s test in Red Bull’s 2024 challenger is undoubtedly still an opportunity for Lawson to show where he is currently at.

‘Filming days’ – of which F1 outfits are allowed two per year – are designed for teams to capture content of their cars on track while they are also regularly used for ‘shakedown’ purposes ahead of pre-season testing. Red Bull completed their first filming day of the year at Silverstone in February with Perez and Max Verstappen debuting the new RB20.

Each filming day is restricted to 200km of track running – which, in Thursday’s instance, would be 33 laps of the full Silverstone GP circuit – and the car in use must be fitted with tyres specifically designed for such events by Pirelli.

While Lawson’s run is certainly not make or break for his Red Bull career and his hopes of a full-time F1 seat on the grid at one of their two teams, from the 22-year-old’s perspective were he to perform conspicuously well in Thursday’s run-out then it would help to show he is a leading alternative option for the world champions should one be needed either later this season or next.

Perez’s position is not thought to be under immediate threat with the Hungarian and Belgian GPs to come before the end of the month before F1 heads into its summer break.

But the 34-year-old is under growing pressure heading towards that August break to quickly find a way out of the slump in form which has seen him score just 11 points over the past five races.

Horner admits Perez’s current form is ‘unsustainable’

Perez scored no points at last week’s British GP after enduring another wretched weekend at Silverstone.

After spinning out in Q1 and qualifying 19th, he started from the pit lane following engine changes and then finished only 17th after a gamble on an early switch to intermediate tyres backfired. Team-mate Verstappen finished the race a close second to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

Perez last finished on the podium eight races ago in China while Verstappen has won three times since.

“He knows it’s unsustainable to not be scoring points,” stated Horner after last Sunday’s race.

“We have to be scoring points in that car.

“He knows his role and target. Nobody is more eager than Checo to find his form again.”

Perez’s immediate Red Bull future had appeared secure when they announced on June 4 that he had signed a two-year contract extension. But it is thought the deal contains certain performance clauses, which Horner has also strongly hinted at when asked about his driver’s struggles in recent weeks.

Asked directly by Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle during the British GP weekend if he now wished they had not signed Perez for next year quite so early, he replied: “That’s a brutally hard question but, of course, at the point that you sign a driver the contents of any agreement are not going to be disclosed to all of you lot [the media].

“So it made absolute sense to sign Checo at that point in time but this is a business in which there are pressures to deliver.”

Despite Perez’s lack of points and the disappearance of the reigning champions’ 2023 dominance levels, Red Bull have still steadily increased their overall lead in the Constructors’ Championship over the past four races to what stands as a 71-point advantage after Silverstone.

But they have been afforded breathing space for now by second-place Ferrari, their closest challengers from the early phase of the season, dropping down the pecking order at recent races.

McLaren and Mercedes have each outscored Red Bull over the past five races, with the former just 78 points adrift now having been 115 behind six races ago. Sunday’s Silverstone race marked the halfway point of the 24-race 2024 season.

Ricciardo’s future not yet certain either

Lawson’s Silverstone outing in the current Red Bull comes a year to the day since Ricciardo was given an outing in the team’s then-latest car in a test at Silverstone following the British GP.

Ricciardo, who himself was serving a back-up role at Red Bull at the time having returned to their fold following his exit from McLaren, drove in a Pirelli tyre test, when the run plans are controlled by F1’s tyre manufacturer.

In that instance, Ricciardo’s performance in the RB19 was sufficiently impressive that it led to Horner and Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko immediately handing the Australian an F1 comeback at Nyck de Vries’ expense at AlphaTauri.

But, one year on, Ricciardo’s future now remains far from certain.

While team-mate Yuki Tsunoda has already been handed a contract extension for 2025 at RB, Ricciardo has yet to find out whether or not he will retained too.

Lawson also remains an alternative at RB, as theoretically would Perez were Red Bull to make any emergency change at the senior team before next season.

Next up for F1 is the Hungarian Grand Prix from Budapest on July 19-21. You can watch every session live on Sky Sports F1. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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