Liam Lawson knew he had a challenge ahead if he wanted a shot at points this weekend, lining up P16 for Barcelona Feature Race. Yet the Carlin driver made it look straightforward with a remarkable getaway, breezing his way up the order to ninth on the opening lap.

However, racing around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya proved to have its challenges. Despite his tremendous efforts to run as high as P6 early on, he eventually had to settle for ninth and Lawson admits he’s in no rush to repeat the same heroics anytime soon.

“I’ve had pretty good first laps this year, which I think has been one of our strong points,” he said. “Obviously, we don’t want to be having to make up these positions. We want to already be starting in that front group but I think it’s definitely been one of our strengths so far.”

READ MORE: Driving ‘smart, precise’ race was key to points in Barcelona heat says Fittipaldi

Swapping on to the Hard Pirelli tyres on Lap 8, Lawson found himself stuck staring at the rear wing of ART Grand Prix’s Théo Pourchaire for the remainder of the race. As tyre degradation began to hurt during the final few laps, the Kiwi fell into the clutches of the runners on the alternate strategy Clément Novalak, Enzo Fittipaldi, and Marcus Armstrong.

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“At one point, we were running P6 mid-race but Théo (Pourchaire) and I were both on the same strategy. He came out just in front of me and it’s so hard to pass here that even with the mistakes he was making, I could never get close enough to do anything.

“Unfortunately, getting stuck behind him cost us our race because we had the pace to go all the way towards the leaders.

"We wouldn’t have had a shot at a podium – a top four or five would have definitely been possible. In the end, I got stuck behind him for most of the race and it allowed the guys on the alternative strategy to come back at us in the last couple of laps. With three laps to go, I went from P6 to P9.”

Even though he’s disappointed with how his race ended, Lawson’s confident he can turn his form around going forward.

“It’s pretty clear that Qualifying this weekend was a disaster for us. We know the reasons why and we know what we need to do to fix these issues. For Monaco, if I do my job right, we should be in a good position.”

READ MORE: Pourchaire relieved after avoiding opening lap disaster

He’ll be wishing for a touch of Monaco magic in Round five. The Red Bull junior lies fourth in the Drivers’ Championship on 37 points, 49 points behind leader Felipe Drugovich. The circuit might hold some unhappy memories for Lawson, after being disqualified from his Sprint Race 2 victory there last year due to an incorrect throttle map. Nevertheless, he’s thrilled at the chance to do battle on the streets of Monte Carlo once more.

“I’ve been thinking about it all year! I got the race win taken away from me last year, so I’m hoping for a bit of redemption this year. Aside from that, I’m excited to be driving on the track. There’s a lot of history there - I’ve been playing that track on the F1 game since I was seven years old.”