New Zealand's Liam Lawson has a future in Formula One after doing an outstanding job as stand-in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said on Friday.
The 21-year-old will be starting his fourth race in Japan this weekend and has already produced the Red Bull-owned team's best result of the season so far with ninth place in Singapore last Sunday.
AlphaTauri look likely to continue with Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda and experienced Australian Ricciardo in 2024, although there has yet to be an announcement, leaving Lawson's future unclear.
Apart from AlphaTauri, Williams are the only team with a possible vacancy if they decide not to retain US rookie Logan Sargeant.
"I think he's done an outstanding job," Horner told reporters at Suzuka when asked about Lawson.
"Zandvoort was a bit of an eye-opener for him, but I thought he did well there. A week later in Monza he was unlucky to miss out on a point and then seeing Singapore for the first time and scoring a couple of points, he's a gritty racer we know that.
"He's grabbed this opportunity in Formula One that very seldom drivers get a chance to demonstrate their talent. I think he's done a tremendous job and has put himself firmly on the radar and cemented the feeling that we had about him."
Asked whether Lawson deserved to race in 2024, Horner said Red Bull had the "luxury problem" of three drivers and two places at AlphaTauri.
"He will be a grand prix driver, he already is a grand prix driver, at some stage. Whether he has to wait a little for that or not, I think he's demonstrating that he is a talent for the future," he added.
Williams' other driver Alex Albon, now a team leader on the track and increasingly highly regarded, previously raced for Red Bull with a deal brokered between the teams to keep him on the starting grid.
Ricciardo, 34, has his sights on replacing Mexican Sergio Perez alongside Max Verstappen at the main Red Bull team from 2025 while Tsunoda is backed by Honda, who will become Aston Martin's engine partners in 2026.