After an eventful and heavily disrupted opening Practice, Liam Lawson says he’s going to have his work cut out for him to maximise his potential in Qualifying.
The Carlin driver secured the second fastest time in the 45-minute session, narrowly missing out on P1 to Jüri Vips by 0.077s and believes there’s plenty of time left to find around Baku.
“Looking back at every year, there’s a big jump from FP to Quali so we still have a lot of work to do, but it’s a good starting point,” he said. “It’s nice to be back here, I enjoyed driving here last year. I’m happy with how the session went, now it’s about finding those last little bits ready for Quali.”
The notoriously difficult track provided another challenge for the drivers to overcome – the wind. Blustery conditions scattered dirt and foliage from nearby trees along the 6.003km Baku City Circuit. Lawson expects this track evolution to continue and be a crucial factor in their running this afternoon.
“At the start it was pretty bad, the track was really slippery. I thought I was horrendously slow because my first lap time was around a two minutes-something. The evolution was massive, but that’s quite normal. Obviously, this track hasn’t been driven on before us. I think after F1 drive on it as well, I’m expecting quite a big jump for Quali.”
Clocking in 14 laps, the joint most of anyone, wasn’t a simple task as two red flags hampered all the drivers’ running and pushed them into a flurry of fast laps in the dying moments of the session. Nevertheless, Lawson isn’t concerned about the lack of representative running and is instead taking notes, after having a direct view of the Ralph Boschung’s incident at the exit of Turn 5.
“It’s the same for everybody so it’s not the end of the world. In the end, we all got to go back out and do those last couple of push laps to seal the session. It wasn’t too bad. It just shows how tricky it was, I was right behind Ralph (Boschung) when I saw him lose it. It was just a little bit of dust he turned in off I think, that spun the car.”
Vips’ leading time of a 1:55.924 was over 1.7 seconds down on the pole position time Lawson laid down during Qualifying in Baku last year. Despite his previous form around the Azerbaijani capital, the New Zealander admits it’s going to be tough to find the improvements necessary to take P1.
“Aiming for pole again as always! I think naturally, there’s going to be a big jump. It’s now about finding the main points where there’s going to be big time gains and being ready for it because the hardest part is going out, not knowing where it is and trying to find it over those laps.
“We’re only going to get three or four laps to put everything together so all the prep comes now, trying to figure out where those jumps are going to be and to make the most of them.”