Liam Lawson is making the most of his ‘dream’ at AlphaTauri

Liam Lawson’s Formula 1 debut was quite the baptism by fire.

The young driver did not find out until Friday, after the second practice session, that he would be replacing an injured Daniel Ricciardo in the Dutch Grand Prix. That meant Lawson would have just a single hour of practice at an unfamiliar track before qualifying on Saturday.

In that practice session, wet conditions caused three separate red flags, one of which was for Lawson himself spinning out on the circuit.

Given that lack of practice, it was no surprise that Lawson qualified at the back of the field. Things would not get easier for him on Sunday, as wet conditions caused a frantic scene shortly after the race began, with drivers diving into the pits to make early tyre changes. Add in some safety car situations, a late red flag caused by a downpour, a ten-second penalty for impeding and the general chaos of an F1 race, and you have a frenetic debut for Lawson.

One that was turned into an incredible meme on social media:

Through it all, Lawson survived. He came across the line in P14 — on a day where just finishing would be considered a minor miracle — and with a penalty handed down to teammate Yuki Tsunoda, he went into the books with a P13 in his first race.

“The aim was to do all 72 laps today,” said Lawson following the race in the team’s recap. “There’s some work to do, but I’m just happy to have gotten through the race, experiencing different conditions and scenarios, to be able to take them forward.”

Now Lawson heads to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, with the opportunity to have both a full week of practice, as well as drive on a track he actually knows well.

“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,” said Lawson in AlphaTauri’s preview of the Italian Grand Prix. “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, AlphaTauri’s 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,” added Lawson. “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.”

Unlike Zandvoort, Lawson has raced at Monza before, and experienced some success at the Temple of Speed. This should put him on better footing this weekend.

“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,” said Lawson.

“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,” added the young driver. “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.”

While stepping into the shoes vacated by Ricciardo after his injury is not the ideal way to begin his career, Lawson knows this is a special opportunity.

One that he is going to try and make the most of.

“Going to Monza with an Italian team is also going to be special. 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,” said Lawson.

“Being a home race in Monza, I imagine it’s going to be even more significant there,” he added. “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.”

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