Liam Lawson is hoping to capitalise on Carlin’s spike in form ahead of the summer break. The New Zealander was honest in his assessment of recent rounds, acknowledging that results had not been as strong as he had hoped for.
Following his second victory of the season last time out in Le Castellet, Lawson is targeting another strong performance this time around in Budapest. Three results each vastly different to each other in the most recent three weekends has the Carlin driver rueing what could have been.
“Mixed emotions over the last month, it’s been up and down. Silverstone was decent, Spielberg sucked, and Paul Ricard was ok. The speed’s been good on all three weekends, but the results haven’t come our way. I made the mistake exceeding track limits in the Feature at Spielberg so that was on me. But Paul Ricard was a better weekend, so mixed emotions.
“It was an important round but right now, it’s not realistic to focus on the Championship. I’d rather just focus on each race weekend and take it race by race, having strong results and looking for highlights, races like that Sprint Race at Paul Ricard.”
Two wins in the opening half of the campaign certainly wasn’t what the Carlin man had envisaged ahead of the season – especially after finishing on the podium in each of the first three races of the 2022 campaign. Following a solid weekend on the team’s home soil at Silverstone, Spielberg halted any momentum he had built, taking the wind somewhat out of his sails.
That form seemed to be continuing into Le Castellet after the Red Bull junior could only manage to secure ninth in Qualifying, which he deemed to be the maximum possible. Fortunately, this converted into a reverse grid front row start in the Sprint Race and despite a lacklustre start, a rejuvenated Lawson daringly carved his way past Marcus Armstrong and Jehan Daruvala to make a triumphant return to the top step of the podium.
Asked whether anything in particular had sparked an upturn in form for the team, Lawson indicated that it was a matter of details coming together and most importantly, completing a clean weekend from start to finish.
“I think things came together a bit at Paul Ricard, but the speed has always been very, very good. I don’t want to be one of those drivers that says they’re unlucky, but we’ve had lots that’s gone on during a lot of weekends, so it was nice to have a clean weekend there and I don’t see why we can’t continue and have clean weekends for the rest of the year.”
Heading back to the Hungaroring, the Carlin driver returns to a circuit that although he knows well, he hasn’t always had luck on his side racing around. On his last appearance in Budapest during his 2020 Formula 3 campaign, Lawson retired from both races early on with mechanical issues.
Nevertheless, Lawson is raring to go on a weekend that is expected to be even more of a challenge than first thought. Tyre management and strong performances in Qualifying have been key to success at the circuit previously, but now drivers will also have to contend with torrential downpours on Saturday and Sunday – which could trip up several of his rivals and throw the fight at front wide open.
“I like the track a lot. It’s a very tight, technical circuit and there’s not much run-off, which is quite exciting to drive around. Overtaking is pretty tough, so Qualifying will be very important but I’m looking forward to it.
With the hotter temperatures, the thermal degradation will be quite high, a bit like Paul Ricard in some sense. With Saturday being potentially rainy, that’ll change things up. This place is quite slippery in the wet but that’s also quite cool to drive.”
As the summer break looms, Lawson is eager to end his mid-season on an upbeat note with a solid set of results, rather than having to mull over any disappointments before the Formula 2 action resumes in Spa at the end of August.
“It’s always nice to go into a break with a good weekend previously. Obviously, it’s the opposite if you have a bad one and then there’s three weeks to dwell on it. That’s never nice. Considering the jump we made in Paul Ricard, it would be nice to have another weekend and go into the break following a decent last race that’ll put everyone in a better headspace as well.”