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Lawson on his time with AlphaTauri: ‘There’s always a little bit of pressure’

Out of the five Red Bull Juniors competing in Formula 2 this season, it is Liam Lawson who has the most points so far with three rounds remaining. An incredible weekend in Spa for the Kiwi was made even better due to his role as AlphaTauri reserve driver active, resulting in his first official F1 session in FP1 at the famous Belgian circuit.

By Tyler Foster

On Thursday, F1 Feeder Series spoke to Lawson about the pressure of being in the big time as well as the differences between his time at Hitech and Carlin in F2.

Lawson has been the AlphaTauri reserve and test driver since the start of the 2022 campaign, but hadn’t had the chance to make an appearance in the AT03 ‘officially’ before being announced for an FP1 role at Spa. Earlier in the season, Lawson’s old Hitech teammate and fellow Red Bull Junior Jüri Vips had the same opportunity but with Red Bull themselves. Considering that Lawson still had his F2 duties throughout the weekend, we asked Lawson whether being with AlphaTauri as opposed to Red Bull helped relieve any extra pressure on him.

Obviously there’s always a little bit of pressure

Liam Lawson

“Obviously there’s always a little bit of pressure,” Lawson responded. “I was feeling a little bit nervous before the session getting in the car for the first time. I think regardless of what car I’m in and what team I was with I would have felt that. For me it was quite nice, I did the post-season test last year with AlphaTauri so to continue working with them and my next test and my first actual official [Formula 1] session with them was quite a cool opportunity. I really had quite a good relationship with those guys.

Proving his worth to the paddock

His time in F1 clearly didn’t affect his preparation with Carlin as the 20-year-old went on to win the F2 Sprint Race while also finishing on the podium in the Feature Race. As a result, the second-year driver is currently in fifth place in the drivers’ standings going into Round 12 at Zandvoort. 

Having begun his F2 career last year with Hitech, Lawson won the first race of the season and went on to finish on the podium in his very first F2 Feature Race. Unfortunately, this may have set the expectations extremely high for the then rookie driver, as he only scored one further podium and finished the season in ninth place. Lawson once again started the season strong in 2022, with a double-podium performance once again in the opening round in Bahrain. However, this time the Kiwi is seemingly finishing the season much more confidently and has already scored more points than last year in less races. 

Comparison between teams

We asked Lawson whether there were any differences this time round compared to his experiences as a rookie in Formula 2, plus whether Carlin have been quicker than when he was at Hitech.

“I think firstly, having a second year you come in straight away with that experience. I remember back in Formula 3, going into that second year, without even doing anything you are already that step ahead. A lot more of your driving is subconscious because basically you’ve had a year to experience it. So, for me that’s been a big part of this year having that second year.”

If I compare to how we were last year [at Hitech], we quite often were struggling for speed especially in qualifying and in races

Liam Lawson

“I would say with the experience with the teams, honestly it’s not too different team-to-team. They both have their own ways of going about things, but at the same time I think you are reasonably limited in Formula 2 with what you can do, so every team has their own way of prepping and I think this year has such different ways of prep. I think we’ve been very quick this year. If I compare to how we were last year [at Hitech], we quite often were struggling for speed especially in qualifying and in races as well. Sometimes we started quite good and we fell a little bit through the year whereas this year overall our pace has been extremely strong.

“I obviously had a great weekend at Spa, but I got asked the question of whether I think Spa was a turning point, whereas I think from my side we’ve actually been at that level all year. The speed’s been great all year, we just had a smooth weekend where things went our way. It’s a shame that we haven’t had more of that this year but we have three rounds to make up for it.”

Header Photo Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

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