Trial by Rain: Liam Lawson’s Chaotic F1 Debut

Liam Lawson had a chaotic start to his F1 career filling in for Daniel Ricciardo in Zandvoort. ATRL’s Chiara Schanno unwraps everything about his debut and potential results.

Chiara Schanno

September 2, 2023

When Daniel Ricciardo broke his hand in a crash during FP2 at the Dutch Grand Prix, Liam Lawson stepped up to replace him at AlphaTauri. With only one practice session remaining, Lawson made his Formula One debut from FP3 onwards. And it turned out to be a trial by rain rather than fire.

 

In a wet FP3, Lawson finished 18th, only in front of crashed drivers Zhou and Magnussen. He briefly caused a red flag towards the end of the session when he spun in the final corner of Circuit Zandvoort. Despite minor contact with the wall, there was no damage to the car, and Lawson could participate in qualifying unaffectedly. 

A rainy debut for the AlphaTauri reserve (Photo via @liamlawson30 on Instagram)

Unsurprisingly, he qualified in last place as he was still getting to grips with the car and the track. During the race and its changing conditions, Lawson kept his head down. Despite an early 10-second time penalty for impeding Magnussen in the pit lane, Lawson ended up in 14th, only one place behind teammate Yuki Tsunoda who had received a 5-second penalty, promoting Lawson to 13th and in front of his teammate in the final classification.

 

Lawson will once again step into the AlphaTauri machine this weekend at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. Temperatures of almost 30°C and no rain are expected for the weekend, making the conditions the opposite of the damp, wet weather of his F1 debut. This time, Lawson can participate from FP1 onwards, giving him more time to get used to the car. 

 

With a dry track and a dry weather setup, the car will behave differently than in Zandvoort, potentially making it easier to drive. Another factor to consider is his familiarity with the circuit. Lawson has raced on the Monza circuit multiple times in Formula cars during his Formula 3 and Formula 2 career (best finish: 2nd in F3 in 2019). In DTM 2021, Lawson even managed to win a race in Monza. He has the chance to be closer to the rest of the field, especially in qualifying. And maybe, if he is a little lucky, the possibility of scoring points won’t be as distant as it seems for a newcomer who isn’t in the best car.

Liam Lawson at the Dutch Grand Prix (via @liamlawson30 on Instagram)

Next to being Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri’s reserve driver, Lawson competes in Super Formula in Japan, where he has three race wins so far. He is currently 2nd in the championship with one race weekend left. In the remaining two races on October 28th and 29th, Lawson will most likely compete and try to win the championship to try and maximize his chances of being called up as a full-time F1 driver for 2024 should another driver fall short and not receive a contract extension.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chiara Schanno was introduced to Motorsport through their family at a young age. Getting really into F1 in late 2016, they soon started to watch more series and is now particularly interested in electric racing like Formula E and feeder series racing like Formula 2. A non-motorsport related (fun) fact about Chiara is that they have stage experience in both acting and singing. They are based in Germany.

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