Liam Lawson

Formule1.nl

Statistics

Team:

RB F1 Team

Date of birth:

February 11, 2002

Country of birth:

New Zealand

Titles:

Liam Lawson’s Formula 1 Debut

In 2023, New Zealander Liam Lawson made his Formula 1 debut at the Dutch GP in Zandvoort. He replaced Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri on Saturday and Sunday after Ricciardo fractured a metacarpal on Friday. Reserve driver Lawson was on site and finally got what he had been looking for: a chance in Formula 1.

Missed Opportunities

Last year, it seemed Lawson might get his chance when it became clear that AlphaTauri was looking for a new driver to replace the departing Pierre Gasly alongside Yuki Tsunoda. However, a move from Formula 2 to Formula 1 never materialized. Red Bull quickly decided not to give one of their junior drivers a chance, but instead brought in Nyck de Vries from outside as a newcomer to the sister team. Lawson, like other drivers in the talent pool, was not considered good enough at the time. De Vries’ experience in other racing classes, his knowledge gained at Mercedes, and his good performance as a Williams substitute at the Monza circuit (ninth) were decisive factors.

When De Vries subsequently underperformed, it seemed that Lawson might finally get the seat as a replacement for the Sneek driver. However, Red Bull once again chose an experienced driver, this time Ricciardo. Meanwhile, Lawson was performing excellently in Japan, in the Super Formula, a series very similar to Formula 1, where Pierre Gasly had previously been ‘parked’ by Red Bull to gain experience.

New Opportunity

The fact that the AlphaTauri was not performing well in the 2023 season did not help Lawson’s chances and made it all the more understandable that Ricciardo was brought in. Adding to the New Zealander’s misfortune was that Red Bull – although they never admitted it – also wanted to see how good Ricciardo still was, with a view to possibly replacing the underperforming Sergio Pérez as Max Verstappen’s teammate.

Regardless, Lawson remained combative and believed in his chances to make it to F1. His patience and positive attitude were rewarded in Zandvoort. Ricciardo’s unfortunate hand fracture in a crash was good news for Lawson: he could step in and make his debut. He had nothing to lose, although he had a difficult opening weekend. For now, it remained a few substitute appearances in 2023, but the first meters tasted like more.

Lawson’s Journey to F1

Lawson started karting in New Zealand at the age of seven. Through various stepping-stone classes, he ended up at the Dutch MP Motorsport in Formula 3 in 2019. He finished eleventh there, and a year later he finished fifth. This was followed by a season in the DTM, just like Alexander Albon. In 2021 and 2022, he raced in Formula 2. Although mentioned as a title candidate, a championship never materialized in either year.

In 2021, Lawson finished a disappointing ninth in the title fight. However, he did manage to secure one victory and made it to the podium three times. A year later, things went much better, he grabbed his last straw to show Red Bull he was still worthy of the junior status: third in the championship, with four victories and six podiums. However, the step to Formula 1 was not forthcoming. Until that one day in Zandvoort, when it turned out he could exchange the Super Formula in Japan for a few races as Ricciardo’s replacement in F1.

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