Liam Lawson believes that he extracted the most he could out of his Carlin car in Qualifying but is disappointed that a promising performance didn’t translate into a stronger result.
Throughout the session, the New Zealander remained on the cusp of the top 10 but was unable to make further progress when improvements were made in the final minutes of the session. Lawson eventually managed to secure ninth but acknowledges that there was still more pace that he could have found that his rivals did.
“It was an okay session. From my side, I was honestly really happy with the lap I did,” he noted after Friday evening’s session. “The car as well was hooked up, the guys at Carlin did a really, really good job with the balance. We can see where the lap time is.
"Unfortunately, there’s not a lot I can do about it right now but I’ll drive with what I’ve got on Saturday and Sunday and do the best I can. In terms of the session, I think it was honestly the maximum today.”
While Carlin’s commanding run of result in the mid-point of the season have allowed it to close right up to long-time Teams’ Standings leaders, MP Motorsport. There’s been contrasting fortunes for the British team’s two drivers. While Lawson initially started the season off the stronger of the two, rookie Logan Sargeant has had the better of his teammate in recent rounds and is continuing to build momentum since his maiden victory in Silverstone.
Beset by bad luck and early retirements, Lawson has failed to score in four of the eight Feature Races in his 2022 campaign. While he’s upbeat about banishing that misfortune, the Red Bull junior admits he’s still having a challenging time trying to combat some of the issues that remain.
“Honestly, the car’s always been there. We’ve always had a really strong car, but we had a lot of stuff happen earlier in the year – we got really unlucky with things and Feature Races I hadn’t finished. Up until Silverstone, I hadn’t finished a Feature Race in the points properly since the first round so from my side it was a really tough start to the year.
“Now that things have sort of come good again, we’ve unfortunately come up with some new issues so from my side that’s where I’m struggling. Obviously for the other side of the garage, for Logan he’s having a great time at the moment. The team’s doing a great job from their side, the car’s really, really good. I’m just hoping we can fix this issue for the rest of the season.”
Lining up on the front row for the reverse grid Sprint Race, Lawson will have his hands full trying to manage all the different variables coming his way. From sweltering temperatures, thermal tyre degradation and the beaming sunshine making it more difficult for the drivers’ to spot their lines, conditions at Le Castellet are proving to be problematic to overcome.
Nevertheless, with ample opportunities to overtake around the Circuit Paul Ricard, the Carlin driver is confident that he get his elbows out in order to salvage some positives from the weekend.
“It should be interesting. I was just saying before that there was quite a lot of glare at this time. When we were qualifying there was quite a lot of glare, certain parts of the track it’s quite difficult to see where the apexes are but I think at the same time, the track will be cooling off as the race goes on and potentially towards the end the tyres might not be struggling so much. I think Sunday is going to be pretty tough on the tyres.
“For sure, we’re in a good position for the Sprint Race. It’s not the race I want to be starting at the front but I’ll take it after today. For Sunday, we’re starting ninth and I’ll be doing my best to move forward as much as I can! Obviously, it’s ideal in the Feature Races with strategy you can do slightly different things so it’s all to play for – we’ll see what happens.”