Liam Lawson is relishing the opportunity to be more prepared for his second Formula 1 outing at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
The Kiwi racer competed in his maiden F1 grand prix last weekend, deputising for Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri after the Australian was ruled out of action with a broken hand sustained in an FP2 crash.
Having only been present in his role as a Red Bull reserve option, Lawson was catapulted into the AlphaTauri AT04 on Saturday morning, only getting one rain-disrupted practice hour before embarking upon his first-ever F1 qualifying session.
Lawson would qualify last of all, but the 21-year-old impressed in the race by surviving a range of conditions to reach the chequered flag in a respectable 13th place, two places ahead of team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.
After completing his debut F1 weekend untroubled, Lawson is looking forward to having the chance to compete in all three practice sessions ahead of the main events.
“In Monza, it’s going to be nice to have the full build-up to the weekend preparation-wise, being able to drive in all the practice sessions,” Lawson said.
“For Zandvoort, I flew in from Japan on Thursday night after racing there the previous weekend. Obviously, you’re always prepared as much as you can be for these things, but it’s so unlikely that you never really expect it to happen, and then it did!
“The support from the team was amazing. They did everything possible to prepare me as much as possible in the limited time we had. Even during the race, Pierre [Hamelin, Race Engineer] was super supportive with so much information, basically walking me through it, and that really made my life a lot easier, but obviously, there are always things you can improve on.
“In the race, we had every condition thrown at us, so that was difficult at the time, but also a good and positive experience, which has helped me get ready for Monza.”
Lawson reveals he has been in the AlphaTauri simulator back at its Faenza base between the two rounds as he prepares to tackle the low-downforce thrill of Monza.
“Apart from that, I was in the simulator this week, and even though we didn’t need to do much playing around with the seat to make me comfortable in the car, there are a few things we have looked at for this weekend,” he explained.
“Monza is a lot lower downforce, so I’ll have to get used to that. Having not driven a Formula 1 car there, it will still be quite a big challenge, but it is more of a straightforward circuit, and it’s one I’ve driven a few times already.
“Regardless, there’ll be a lot more to learn, a lot more to improve on, and a lot from Zandvoort to reflect on to use for this week.”
It is yet to be confirmed when Ricciardo will return, although Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has suggested he will likely pinpoint the following round in Singapore as the target for his comeback race.
Heading to AlphaTauri’s home event, Lawson outlines his aim is to “make the most” of the deputy opportunities he continues to receive.
“Going to Monza with an Italian team is also going to be special,” he added. “If I think back to last weekend, Formula 1 is just such a different world – the difference between walking into the circuit on Friday compared to walking into the circuit on Saturday, I’ve never experienced anything like that, specifically that level of attention.
“Being a home race in Monza, I imagine it’s going to be even more significant there. It’s amazing to be doing this. It’s been my dream since before I can even remember, so it’s very cool to have this opportunity, and I’m just going to try to make the most of it.”
With neither AlphaTauri seat confirmed for next year, Lawson remains a feasible option to become one of the Italian outfit’s two full-time drivers for 2024.