Thrown in at the deep end to replace the injured Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri, Liam Lawson is in an intense learning process which he says will only ramp up further should the Dutch GP be dry.
Lawson was overlooked for the AlphaTauri vacancy just a few rounds ago, Red Bull deciding that their prospect should focus on his Super Formula title bid with Ricciardo instead getting the nod to head to their junior team for the remainder of F1 2023.
As it turned out though, Lawson was to get his opportunity in F1 2023 after all following an FP2 crash for Ricciardo at Zandvoort which sadly left him with a broken hand.
Liam Lawson looks ahead after “very hectic” qualifying day
Lawson, understandably, was the slowest of the 20 drivers in Q1 at the Dutch GP, experiencing wet conditions in the final practice session which carried over into the first stage of qualifying.
But, with the track having dried as the sessions went on, and changeable weather again forecast for Sunday, some more rain may well be just what Lawson needs, otherwise he will be suddenly faced with another new scenario of competing in an F1 car on a dry track.
“Firstly, I feel for Daniel in this situation, and it’s not something you want to see, especially to someone as nice as him, and I hope he recovers quickly,” said Lawson after qualifying.
“Any chance you get to race in Formula 1, you will grab with both hands, so I’m very excited about the opportunity I have been given. There are lots of emotions because it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was three years old.
“Today has been very hectic, with very tricky conditions. It was my first time driving on the intermediate tyres during the first session, and it was different to what I expected, but I felt like I was getting somewhere and learning how the tyres behaved.
“During qualifying, I was feeling comfortable and like I was gaining a lot, but then it rained again, and I expected the grip to drop, but I was surprised by how high it stayed, so for sure, I didn’t maximise everything. I feel comfortable in the car, but with these conditions, it’s tricky to learn this track in the car.
“Physically, I feel okay now, but with wet track conditions, it’s not as physically demanding as the dry, so I expect it to be more tough during the race.
“This track is definitely a tricky one, bumpy in some places and takes confidence, which is difficult for me to pick up so quickly. If it’s dry tomorrow, I’m going to be learning many new things because I haven’t driven the car in fully dry conditions yet and haven’t done any long runs on dry compound tyres. I’ll just learn as much as possible and hang on.”
On Sunday Lawson will become the first New Zealander to start a grands prix since Brendon Hartley made his last appearance for Red Bull’s junior team in 2018.