4 Sep 2022

Getting inside the mind of rising F2 star Liam Lawson

From Sunday Morning, 11:36 am on 4 September 2022
Liam Lawson.

Lawson on the track Photo: Photosport/PANORAMIC

Kiwi race car driver Liam Lawson is a rising star. He's having a cracking Formula 2 season, and is taking practice laps behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car.

At the Belgium Grand Prix last week he won the F2 sprint race, and finished third in the feature race.

And he races again today in the F2 at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.

There are now only three remaining meetings left in the season, and Lawson has moved up to fifth place on the championship table.

Last week he had his first official Formula 1 practice run with AlphaTauri, under the Red Bull team, and the Belgium Grand Prix's Free Practice sessions.

He talked to Jim Mora, about his career, about music, and about how's he feeling at this point in the season.

The current schedule with a quick succession of big races suits him, Lawson said.

"I quite like it - because when you have bigger breaks you go back and train... but then you go out of the racing mindset a little bit you have to put yourself back in it going into race week.. whereas when you do these back-to-back races you sort of just stay in this race mode, which is quite cool.

"A couple of years ago in 2020, we had a season when Covid was at its worse, we had our whole F3 race season compacted into 11 weeks with 9 rounds, and that was one of the best times I'd say I've had with racing a car."

New Zealand F2 driver Liam Lawson

Liam Lawson of New Zealand Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Only a few of years ago he was still a student at Pukekohe High School. He left when he was 15 for racing.

"It's been a crazy last couple of years - it's nice to go home at the end of every year. I still live in Pukekohe when I'm home and go past my old school all the time."

Formula 2 racing keeps him on his toes, with upsets and stymies possible at each meet.

"It's very eventful, the races. It's really easy to lose a wing or get a puncture or something like that with the way the frantic starts are.

"[This season] I've had some very close battles, some cool overtakes... qualifying has been quite tough in a lot of cases."

How different was it doing laps in the Formula 1 car for AlphaTauri?

"Very very different, the car's obviously extremely fast, a lot faster than Formula 2 ... [it was a] big learning experience - it took definitely a few laps to get used to it."

"Going back to the F2 car just felt a little bit slower."

Liam Lawson #5 Carlin, during the pre-season test of the FIA Formula 2 Championship at Bahrain International Circuit, in Bahrain on March 2 - 4.

Liam Lawson #5 Carlin, during the pre-season test of the FIA Formula 2 Championship at Bahrain International Circuit, in Bahrain on March 2 - 4. Photo: Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool

The opportunity to take some first steps toward Formula 1 at the highest level was very exciting, he said.

"I've been lucky enough to have a lot more involvement with Formula 1 this year, with Red Bull - doing a lot of simulated work ... it's nice to have some more involvement and learn. It's all very exciting, but at the same time it's just as important to focus on the F2 at the same time.

"The best way to do that is just to finish as high as possible in F2, and finish this year strongly - that's what the focus is at the moment."

Belief in yourself and your potential to win was essential for every race and at every corner, he said.

His goal now is to make it into Formula 1 racing in the next couple of years, where he could pit himself against some of the world's fastest names on the track.