Liam Lawson is confident that Hitech Grand Prix will be working tirelessly to “tune-up the car,” ahead of the final race of the season on Sunday, saying that he’d enjoy the revamped Yas Marina circuit a lot more if he was faster.
Finishing fifth and sixth in the opening two races of the season finale, Lawson is hoping to end the year with a fourth podium but believes that the team need to improve their pace in the first half of the races, with his Hitech taking a while to get up to speed.
“We need to improve the first 50% of the race because our pace then isn't good,” said Lawson. “Towards the end, we always seem to be not so bad. The goal is to try and tune up the car and we will see. We had good starts on Saturday and managed to jump one or two cars off the line, so if we can do that again, it would be good.
“I like the new (layout). I don't think that it has helped the racing side of things, which was potentially the goal, but I think it is good. It is fun to drive and it’s a lot faster - Turn 9 is quite a fun corner to drive.
“You always enjoy tracks where you are really fast, so when we are not so fast, like this weekend, it is not so enjoyable. I think if I was fast, I would like it a lot more.”
Lawson’s Sprint Race 2 was compromised by a chaotic race start, with everyone from fourth to 10th involved in an opening lap scrap, which was kickstarted by Oscar Piastri’s launch down to outside from eighth.
Initially coming away from the track-wide battle unscathed, Piastri made a similar attempt on Lawson going into Turn 5, which resulted in the two banging wheels and a five-second time penalty for the freshly crowned champion.
On the dramatic opening lap, Lawson said: “Oscar was quite aggressive at the start and made it three or four wide and we all kind of made contact and I lost momentum. I managed to get past him, but then into Turn 5, he did the same thing.
“He’s won the Championship, so I guess he was in a full send mode and wasn't worried about his points anymore. He hit me at Turn 5, and I fell back a couple of spots and then it was just safety cars for a while.”
That wasn’t Lawson’s only skirmish either, as the Hitech was later involved in another multi-car battle with the Felipe Drugovich, Jack Doohan and Roy Nissany as he fought to reclaim the lost positions.
“After the race finally got underway properly, we lacked a little bit of speed in the first 50%,” he continued. “Towards the end, the car came on, but we are still lacking pace overall compared to the leaders, which is a shame.
“I had a bad exit out of Turn 5, got too close to (Felipe) Drugovich and lost the front. Jack (Doohan) was close and passed me into Turn 6. I managed to get him back out of Turn 7, but (Roy) Nissany was close.
“You always know with Roy that it is going to be an aggressive send coming and he did a big send into turn 9. I got back past him, and it was close, very much on the limit. Without the lap 1 incident, though, I think we could have been in the top five or even on the podium.”