Liam Lawson was determined to take the positives from a frustrating opening race that saw him dumped at the back of the grid following damage to his front wing. A magnificent charge to fifth ensured the Kiwi still brought back a decent haul of points, while the team also got some solid pitstop practice done.
A tangle with eventual winner Théo Pourchaire for third in the opening stages had thwarted the Hitech Grand Prix driver’s attempts to take a podium, as he was forced to pit for a new front wing.
The team also switched him from mediums to softs and Lawson believes that could prove beneficial during the weekend.
“It’s good to know the balance difference between primes and options, so that’s a positive that I can take into tomorrow,” said Lawson. “Plus, the guys got to do a pitstop live in the race, which gives them good practice.
“They also got to do a nose change too, which is quite complicated. We don’t want to be doing those tomorrow, but it’s not a negative in terms of Feature Race preparation.”
A well-timed Safety Car put him back on the charge, but for all of his positivity, Lawson couldn’t hide his initial disappointment at the earlier incident.
“I think that we had the potential to be on the podium or to be fighting for the win today,” continued Lawson. “So, I am pretty disappointed, and at the same time, pretty angry about the incident that happened with Pourchaire. For me, it’s pretty unacceptable.
“Unfortunately, I don't have an onboard, and on the TV cameras, you cannot really see what happened, but it’s disappointing to get brake checked on the exit of a corner like that. It damaged my wing, and he was very, very lucky to be able to continue without a puncture.
“It ruined that bit of the race for me, and we had to box. The pace on options was good and up until the last few laps, we were able to make our way through the field. I guess that P5 is a good result considering what happened.”
Lawson will start the second race of the weekend from sixth, and after an eventful opener, he said that he will not be taking many risks.
“The first couple of laps were good, we went from seventh to fourth, so another start like we had today,” said Lawson, when asked how he would approach Sprint Race 2. “I never really got to see what our pace was like on the mediums, so hopefully we have the speed to continue.
“A podium would be nice, but from where we are starting it could be tough. Considering how eventful this morning’s race was, if it is anything like that, it will be more about staying out of trouble and surviving until the end.”