Liam Lawson believes he gave it all he could to bring home fourth place in a difficult Sprint Race in Zandvoort. After a blistering getaway from fifth, the Carlin driver managed to make the move of the race with an audacious and daring overtake on Jüri Vips into the stadium section.

After that, his race began to settle down as he was unable to catch Dennis Hauger and wrestle the final spot on the podium from his fellow Red Bull junior’s grasp.

Looking back on a physically demanding race, Lawson admitted that he struggled to find any opportunities to make a move stick around the Dutch circuit’s 14 turns, particularly as the tyres began to overheat.

“I think it was the maximum that we could have done. It's pretty clear that it's very hard to overtake here. Even in F3 it’s hard to overtake, so for us it’s normally another step harder. A lot of guys were reaching the limiter before Turn 1, so you run out of speed anyway.

“It was pretty tough. The first lap was pretty eventful, we went for an early move on Jüri into Turns 8 and 9, which meant I was able to set him up and get a good run in into Turn 11. The car was strong on the brakes at the start, so I was able to get that one done – it was pretty close! Then after that it was pretty straight forward, just single file the rest of the race.

“It was a bit of stretch with the thermal degradation, they just get really hot. The hards are very low grip so you spend a lot of time wheel spinning and front locking is really easy to do. On the restart, there was good grip for a couple of corners, but then you’re straight back into the same situation you’re in before.”

default image

Towing close to the edge with his move on Vips on the opening lap, Lawson explained that the move had already been planned several corners before as he strategically eyed up the move, utilising the slipstream out of Turn 10 in combination with good traction to budge his way past.

“I wasn’t nervous when I went for it, but I thought about it afterwards. It’s quite good that they had the resin there because Jüri drove on top of it and came back on and it was fine because if it was just gravel, it would have been slightly worse.

“I was able to set him up from a couple of corners earlier. We went really close side-by-side through Turn 9, I swear we were touching. Then I got a good run, and he covered all the way, then came back a bit so I had a car-width to go down. I knew that we were good on the brakes early on, so I was confident that I could stop the car. I got fully next to him and then when I turned in, I hit the inside kerb and it bounced the car out.

“I don’t know if we rubbed or touched, but that’s why I think he went off a bit. I don’t know if he was reacting to my car moving or what it was, but it was pretty on the limit.”

READ MORE: Vips: ‘We have more pace in reserve for Feature Race’

From there on, the pace advantage seemed to go back and forth between Hauger up ahead, Lawson and Vips behind. Whilst Lawson reckons he was faster than the PREMA Racing driver, particularly during the one-lap shootout on the restart, the New Zealander confessed he didn’t think that going for a move for the podium was worth the risk of losing out on the points haul.

default image

“I was quicker (than Hauger). He was struggling so I got close, started to put the pressure on him and then I started struggling. Then he found some grip again from cooling the tyres down and decided to pull away. I was getting pressure from Jüri, then he’d fall back. In different parts of the races, we were quick and then they were quick, but even if you are faster or slower there’s nothing you can really do.

“It’s a bit of DRS train. I got close on the restart, I nearly went for the lunge on Dennis, but it wasn’t worth the risk for one point.”

READ MORE: Iwasa: ‘More potential in me and the car for both Zandvoort races’

With 40 laps and a compound switch to manage, the whole field is in for a race of endurance in the Feature Race, where Lawson will start P6. The lack of overtaking opportunities has left the drivers more reliant than ever on all the pieces coming together perfectly if they hope to reach the chequered flag inside the top 10.

“The Sprint was pretty physical. The Feature Race will be a lot harder, especially after boxing. It depends on what strategy we do, but normally you come out of the box on the new tyres and it’s really difficult to steer when the pressures are low. I think the start, strategy and pit stops are going to be very important because even if you’re faster, you can’t really do anything.