Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri, Monza, 2023

Lawson left feeling points were possible after first full grand prix weekend

2023 Italian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

There were 16 hours between the announcement of Liam Lawson’s Formula 1 debut and him heading out on track at Zandvoort, and he would have spent several of those hours asleep.

“In a preferred world, you’d have a week or two to really get everything sorted in your mind. But it was in like 12 hours for us,” he said. At least in those 12 hours he was able to consult the experience of his team mate Yuki Tsunoda and the injured but “extremely supportive” Daniel Ricciardo, whose place he took.

Lawson qualified 19th and finished 13th. On the Monday afternoon following the race came the widely-anticipated news he would drive again at Monza.

That gave him almost four full days before the first practice session of the Italian Grand Prix, and therefore enough time to visit Red Bull’s simulator in Milton Keynes, then head to Italy early to work at AlphaTauri’s factory before he hopped back into their car.

“It obviously feels better having done more and more preparation for the weekend,” Lawson told media including RaceFans when he arrived on Thursday at Monza. “So, simulator included, it was good also to spend more time with the team, especially with my engineers. Obviously it definitely helps going into this weekend.”

However he had little time to reflect on his debut at the Dutch Grand Prix, as all attention was on race two of his F1 career. Unlike at Zandvoort, Lawson had the benefit of a full preparations for his second grand prix weekend.

“There’s just a lot of work trying to prepare for this,” he said. “So that kind of takes over everything else. Takes over completely the focus. Not a huge amount of time [to reflect],” he explained.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Lawson was 14th fastest in practice, ahead of his team mate Tsunoda, and qualified one place behind him in 12th on the grid. They were split by 0.164 seconds, with Tsunoda 0.013s away from reaching Q3. That left Lawson encouraged that he could have qualified in the top 10.

“We definitely had more time in it,” he said afterwards. “With both cars so close to Q3, there was clearly potential to be in there. So it’s a little bit disappointing, but happy with the step we made from [Friday]. We’ve obviously closed the main gap, but it’s the last little bit needs to still come.”

At least part of the missing time may have been caused by a rival, he added. “I had a car go off in front of me and drop gravel all over the track, so that definitely didn’t help.”

AlphaTauri started Lawson on the medium tyre for the race, seeking to have more strategy flexibility, and put him on a two-stop strategy. He held his starting position but later said: “I had a bad start, and that’s where we really lost the chance [to score]”.

On lap 12 he passed Nico Hulkenberg with a lunging move at the Rettifilo, then pitted for the first time a lap later to switch to hard compound tyres. Other drivers’ pit stops brought Lawson up to 11th place during his second stint, before he then switched back to the mediums.

He made passes on Lance Stroll and former Formula 2 rival Logan Sargeant as he made his way up to 12th, which then became 11th after the chequered flag as Oscar Piastri was penalised for twice going off-track to pass him.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

While he felt the benefits of his increased preparations, there were still new things that Lawson encountered during the race, such as “knowing how much the step up in grip is going to be from compound to compound.”

“And, when you make changes, what it’s going to do to the car. Things like that, that you have to feel first before you can even know basically where to use the extra grip or whatever it is.”

Overall though he was “more comfortable, but just a little bit disappointed with the race” as the gap to tenth place, the final points position, was 6.582s after 51 laps. That equated to needing to find 0.13s per lap to score for the first time.

“I think we maybe had the pace for points, I’m not sure, we have to look into it,” he said. “Much, much more prepared [but] unfortunately not enough to fight for points today. I think it definitely helps with all the work we did leading up. I feel much more comfortable in the car.”

Tsunoda’s race ended before the start with a power unit problem, robbing us of the most useful benchmark for Lawson’s efforts. While he had a “good feeling” in the car and therefore could extract pace from it, he said his lack of seat time means the procedures in the cockpit other than steering and using the pedals are something that he still needs to get used to.

“There’s a lot to do behind the wheel of the car and it’s obviously better if you don’t have to look down at what you’re doing. And that’s something that takes a little bit of time,” he said.

With Ricciardo unlikely to return before Qatar, Lawson is expected to race in next week’s Singapore Grand Prix, giving him an even longer lead-up time to fit in event preparations. But he said he has “no idea what’s going to happen” in regards to his continued stand-in role. In the meantime, he has a priceless opportunity.

Bringing the F1 news from the source

RaceFans strives to bring its readers news directly from the key players in Formula 1. We are able to do this thanks in part to the generous backing of our RaceFans Supporters.

By contributing 1 per month or 12 per year (or the equivalent in other currencies) you can help cover the costs involved in producing original journalism: Travelling, writing, creating, hosting, contacting and developing.

We have been proudly supported by our readers for over 10 years. If you enjoy our independent coverage, please consider becoming a RaceFans Supporter today. As a bonus, all our Supporters can also browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Italian Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Italian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

4 comments on “Lawson left feeling points were possible after first full grand prix weekend”

  1. I am delighted to hear these comments from Liam. I get the impression he believes a Q3 appearance is within the capability of the car, which is encouraging. Being about 6 seconds away from a points earning place also sounds encouraging. I like the optimism in his report. I am looking forward to seeing how he performs at the Singapore and Japanese Grands prix.

    1. @drycrust yeah he’s ambitious and so far showing he has potential to back up that ambition.

      Singapore will be an entirely different challenge, can’t wait to see what he can achieve.

  2. P10 was definitely on with a clean start. I’ve just been watching some of his onboard and the good thing is he seems confident on the brakes making some really nice overtakes and has adjusted to the step up in speed vs Super Formula quite nicely.. Can’t wait to see how he gets on in Singapore and hopefully Japan too. He should go well at Suzuka having already raced their earlier in the year.

    1. A clean start and maybe a 1 stopper would also have helped, it certainly looked like the car worked well enough here and Lawson performed nice and consistently.

Comments are closed.