Liam Lawson couldn’t keep the beaming smile off of his face after making his Formula 1 debut. Getting behind the wheel of the Alpha Tauri car in Free Practice 1 at Spa-Francorchamps, the Carlin ace’s appearance was part of the two young driver sessions F1 teams are required to run this season.
While wet weather and red flags hampered the Red Bull reserve driver’s run plan, Lawson put in a strong long run showing on the white-walled hard tyres to end his session in 19th. Speaking ahead of Qualifying on Friday evening, the New Zealander looked back at an unforgettable experience.
“I'm feeling really good. It was a pretty epic way to have a Friday, I guess. The run was okay, we were interrupted by red flags and the rain at the end, which meant I never got to do the soft tyre run that we planned on doing, just sustainable running on hards but it was nice to get some laps in. Now I gotta try and adjust back to Formula 2.”
Getting back in the groove after experiencing the thrill of an F1 car, Lawson admitted it was going to be a challenge to adapt back to the different machinery but was prepared to put in the work and take the many lessons he’d learnt back to his F2 running – particularly the laps of the circuit after experiencing limited running in F2’s Practice session earlier in the day.
“Every single thing is different, the way you drive the car is completely upside down. Right now, we’re basically going through as much as we can to try and get ready to go back into the F2 car. I’m sure the first run is going to be tough, it’s about being as close as possible for the second run in Quali. The car is very different, it’s obviously a lot nicer to drive and a lot faster. Hopefully, I’ll get some more opportunities soon.
“I think that it was just good to do laps to be honest. There are pros and cons, it’s still a bigger deficit trying to go from the F1 car to F2, but I guess one of the good sides of doing it was that I got to do quite a few laps of the track. Although, we’ve all been here before many times so.
“It's about trying to be as ready as possible and learn as much in the first run to readjust to the car and then basically being as close as possible in the second run is the target. Obviously on this track as well, it’s one of my favourites, it’s pretty cool to drive on.”
Fortunately, the New Zealander was able manage the switchover with relative ease. Qualifying in sixth, he’ll be lining up in fifth for Saturday evening’s Sprint Race and will he aiming to continue his positive Belgian weekend.