Liam Lawson admits he will have to “relearn everything” in his maiden Formula 1 race if it turns out to be a dry Dutch Grand Prix.
The Red Bull reserve driver is filling in at AlphaTauri in place of Daniel Ricciardo after the Australian broke a metacarpal in a crash during FP2 on Friday.
It has been a whirlwind 24 hours for the New Zealander who must overcome an incredibly steep learning curve in time for the race tomorrow. This morning’s wet FP3 session, which saw three red flag stoppages, was Lawson’s one and only outing in the AT04 ahead of qualifying.
Recalling Friday’s events, Lawson, who qualified 20th, said: “It was all very quick. Obviously I was in the Red Bull garage watching the session. The crash was just a freak accident.
“It wasn’t a big crash or anything like that, just the way that the steering wheel flipped around. It’s something that you never want to see so first of all I feel for Daniel.
“I had the news that he had hurt his hand so we went to the driver’s briefing as a precaution. Then midway through the driver’s briefing I got the message.
“I would have loved to do some more prep, especially the first two practice sessions. But an opportunity like this is something I’ve waited my whole life for so I’m taking it by both hands and [trying] to make the most of it.”
Despite having limited time to get up to speed with the car and track, Lawson said he began to feel comfortable with the car towards the end of qualifying.
“It was okay. To be honest with how the first set of tires was going, I was actually feeling pretty comfortable. This morning was really tough.
“I think the first run we weren’t too far off. And still improving. And then just the second set of rain again, and I expected it to get a bit slower, but obviously, just getting used to this inter tyre, these conditions.”
With changeable conditions forecasted for the Dutch Grand Prix, Lawson is targeting a clean race but is also aware of the scale of the challenge that awaits him.
“Obviously, tomorrow if it’s dry I’m going to have to relearn everything again because I haven’t driven in the dry. It’s going to be a very tough race. I’m excited, but at the same time I know it’s going to be challenging and I know we’ve got a lot to get through so I’m just after a clean race.
“The first half is going to be extremely tough, especially if it is dry I’m going to be learning everything in that first part. We haven’t even done any long runs so I don’t know how the tyre performance is, it’s going to be a big learning curve.
“By the end of the race hopefully I’ll be a lot more comfortable with the car so that’s definitely the target.”