Following Jüri Vips’ disgraced exit from the role of Red Bull reserve driver, it has been Liam Lawson that has taken the opportunities available recently, including his maiden FP1 appearance for AlphaTauri at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday. The Kiwi followed this up with a Sprint Race victory to improve his stock further in an attempt to finish his slightly disappointing campaign in style.
By Tyler Foster
Since becoming the Red Bull reserve driver, Lawson has scored three podiums including two Sprint Race victories. The second of these was an accomplished drive from fifth on the grid at Belgium’s famed Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Saturday.
Pumping in the laps
After fulfilling his duties for AlphaTauri on Friday, Lawson had to refocus back to his main loyalties in Formula 2. The 20-year-old managed to qualify a solid P6 later on Friday before taking his race win the next day. Speaking to F1 Feeder Series after the race, we asked Lawson whether his hour in an F1 car helped motivate him specifically for this weekend’s F2 action.
Being in an official session…definitely reminds you of why you’re doing this and what the end goal is.Liam Lawson
“I think definitely being in the environments of Formula 1 again, and actually being in an official session, that definitely reminds you of why you’re doing this and what the end goal is; not that motivation has ever been an issue for me. It [FP1] definitely made it a little bit difficult in ways but at the same time I did quite a lot of laps in FP1. I’m thankful to AlphaTauri for giving me those laps because it meant that going into quali, even though that I had a big adjustment to make, that I had done quite a few laps.”
Qualifying holding Lawson back
Given that Lawson is now the Red Bull reserve driver and has already been confirmed to retain the role for 2023, it may be a concern that Lawson, who is in his second year of F2, is 20 points behind his rookie Carlin teammate Logan Sargeant at this point in the season. It is clear to anyone watching that Lawson and Carlin have had the raw pace all year long. So, we asked what is was that was preventing the New Zealander from experiencing more great results like on Saturday.
The speed’s always been there honestly, even in qualifying; it’s just been [that] things happen.Liam Lawson
“Qualifying has been definitely difficult this year,” Lawson explained. “If you look at an average, it’s pretty horrendous, so that’s been quite tough. I think we’ve had a lot happen this year as well. The speed’s always been there honestly, even in qualifying; it’s just been things happen. Looking over the year, we’ve had our fair share of failures. I don’t want to sit here and say that I’m an unlucky driver, but we’ve definitely had a few things go wrong. Obviously, the speed’s been good and there’s no reason why we can’t have a strong finish to end of the year.”
Including qualifying in Spa, Lawson qualifies in an average grid position of 8.45 over the eleven rounds so far this campaign. In comparison, championship leader and Spa polesitter Felipe Drugovich has averaged a qualifying position of 5.18 throughout the season. With this in mind, you begin to understand why Lawson hasn’t been in the fight for the title beyond the opening couple of rounds.
Finishing on a high
Following his fourth Formula 2 victory of his career, Lawson now sits fifth in the championship on 99 points. As stated earlier, there is a 20-point margin to his teammate Logan Sargeant ahead in third, with Charouz’s Enzo Fittipaldi in fourth just a single point ahead of Lawson. Starting in P6 for the Feature Race on Sunday, there will be just four more opportunites to score big points this season. We asked Lawson what his target was for the remaining rounds of the season bearing in mind the current competitive state of the standings.
“There’s a few guys quite close,” Lawson agreed. “It’s extremely close from third or fourth to tenth. For the rest of the season, from our side and from my side [the target] is to put the car at the front for the Feature Races and put ourselves in a better position to fight for those points because if we start up there I feel like the pace is always strong enough to pull it off.”
Header Photo Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd
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