LawsonF2 Graduates: Liam Lawson

Liam Lawson has become the next Formula 1 driver in New Zealand’s storied motorsport history, walking in the footsteps of talent, including 1967 world champion Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren.

F1’s latest driver performed admirably during his two Formula 2 campaigns, providing Lawson the perfect platform to springboard onto the world stage.

The 21-year-old raced for Hitech in his first F2 season, staying with the British team after finishing fifth in the FIA F3 championship the previous year in 2020.

Lawson combined F2 with a DTM campaign for Red Bull AF Corse, battling in the German Touring Car Championship in a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo.

The Kiwi kicked off his Formula 2 career with the best possible result: victory in the first Sprint Race in Bahrain.

The remainder of the Bahrain weekend yielded an unfortunate retirement and a third-place finish at the Bahrain International Circuit. 

F2 ran a unique format in 2021, with three races per weekend and just eight rounds, which received mixed reviews.

Next time out in Monaco, the Red Bull Junior struggled in qualifying and ended up P6 in Group B. Ninth place, on the fringes of the points in the opening Sprint Race, followed by a superb victory in Race 2. 

The Kiwi had the win taken away from him post-race for using an incorrect throttle pedal progressivity map at the start.

More misfortune awaited Lawson in Azerbaijan; the Hitech driver clattered into the wall during a chaotic opening lap. 

Lawson scored a double points finish during his visit to The Land of Fire, scoring seventh place and P6 in Baku. 

As the F2 season approached the halfway mark, the Red Bull Junior kicked off his DTM campaign at Monza, taking victory in the opening race and showcasing his natural talent.

After a lacklustre qualifying at Silverstone, he scored a double points finish across both the Sprint Races, including a fifth place in Race 2, followed by P11 in the Feature Race.

More consistency allowed the Hitech driver to score his second P5 finish in two weekends in the first Sprint Race at Monza.

Lawson improved to fourth place in Race 2 before delivering the fastest lap in the Feature Race despite retiring with mechanical trouble.

The season entered its closing stages with three rounds left; the Kiwi retired from Race 1 after hitting the wall at Turn 14 whilst running in third place with just 12 laps to go.

DTM became Lawson’s main focus in early October, losing the championship in the final round at Norisring when he got caught up in an opening lap incident.

A December double header at the brand new Saudi Arabia circuit and the revamped Yas Island venue rounded off the F2 campaign.

Lawson started on the pole in Sprint Race 1 on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit and finished second behind compatriot Marcus Armstrong.

The pole sitter finished a measly half a second behind the DAMS driver and shared the podium with fellow Red Bull Junior Jüri Vips.

He delivered P6 in Race 2 before retiring from the Feature Race with a gearbox issue, ending his rookie F2 season ninth in the championship.

Lawson returned to the second tier of motorsport for another assault on the championship, switching to Rodin Carlin for 2022.

A double podium in Bahrain kicked off his campaign; the Kiwi trailed ART’s Theo Pourchaire by one point heading into Saudi Arabia.

Jeddah yielded a superb win in the Sprint Race as Formula 2 reverted to two races per weekend before retiring due to the left front wheel falling off the car after his pit stop.

The Kiwi sat second in the standings as Formula 2 returned to Imola for the first European round of the year.

Lawson floundered in Italy, and the Circuit De Barcelona-Catalunya as P8 in Imola’s Sprint Race was followed by a double ninth in northeastern Spain.

Monaco yielded more misfortune for the Carlin driver, a sole point in the Sprint Race and a loss of power in Race 2 wrapped up a tricky opening three rounds in Europe.

The Carlin driver’s second trip to Azerbaijan saw him score much better results than in 2021. 

Second place in qualifying behind Vips was backed up by third place in Race 1, Lawson’s first podium since the opening round in Bahrain.

The seventh round of the season was hosted at Silverstone. The Carlin driver delivered fifth place in an ultra-competitive qualifying session; just one second separated the top 13 drivers.

The Kiwi drove to his second consecutive podium in the Feature Race, finishing in third place, as his team mate Logan Sargeant took victory.

The Red Bull Junior moved up to fifth in the standings ahead of Round Eight at Red Bull Ring in Austria. 

P14 in qualifying was coupled with stalling on the grid and starting from the pit lane in the Sprint Race, before retiring with gearbox trouble.

After picking up a sole point from Austria’s Feature Race, Lawson scored his second win of the year at Paul Ricard with a punchy drive in the Sprint Race.

Hungary remained relatively quiet for the Kiwi, a P6 and seventh-place finish in Budapest was a consistent, point-scoring weekend.

Formula 2 rolled onto Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps with four rounds to go. An unspectacular sixth place in qualifying was followed up with a superb victory in the Sprint Race and third place in Race 2.

The final two rounds in Europe at Zandvoort and Italy saw mixed results for Lawson. Fourth place and P5 in the two Sprint Races were accompanied by point-less outings in the pair of Feature Races.

The final round in Abu Dhabi saw much better results for the Carlin driver, with a dominant victory over Richard Verschoor, coupled with another third place in the Feature Race.

After finishing third in the championship, Lawson shifted to Japan in 2023 for a run at the Super Formula championship with Team Mugen. 

The Kiwi won the opening race at Fuji and is now second in the championship, eight points behind Ritomo Miyata ahead of the season finale at Suzuka on the 27-29th of October.

The Red Bull reserve driver was handed an opportunity in August 2023 as AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo was sidelined with a hand injury sustained at Zandvoort.

The 21-year-old was thrown into the AT04 ahead of FP3 and went on to score P13 in a chaotic wet-dry race.

Lawson improved once more at Monza, getting closer to the points with a P11 finish.

In the following Grand Prix in Singapore, Lawson out-qualified a host of experienced drivers, including his teammate and World Champion Max Verstappen, and finished the race an impressive ninth. He will remain in the car until Ricciardo is fit again.

The New Zealander performed admirably throughout his two seasons in F2 and has proved his credentials in Super Formula whilst being handed a chance at Formula 1 in 2023.

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