A driver as talented as New Zealander, Liam Lawson, deserves to be racing in Formula 1. Following Daniel Ricciardo’s broken hand sustained after a crash during free practice in Holland, the 21-year-old has shone as the Australian’s temporary replacement at AlphaTauri. The man from Hastings has at times outperformed Yuki Tsunoda, his Japanese teammate, since being thrust into the spotlight.
In Singapore, after knocking Max Verstappen out of qualifying for a top 10 starting spot on the grid, he caused a further surprise by finishing the Grand Prix in the points. If anyone was questioning his ability before, they weren’t after his exploits at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
But unless another team takes a punt on Lawson, he’ll have to resign himself to reserve driver status at AlphaTauri when Ricciardo returns. It’s understandable that the Italian outfit would stick with the experience of the eight-time, Grand Prix-winning Australian. After all, anyone placing bets on Lawson to finish in the points will have seen him priced as an unfancied 100/1 outsider by bet365.
Even his most avid fans in New Zealand, who may have taken advantage of the promotional bet365 NZ bonus codes to tip him for a highly-placed finish, would have been more hopeful than expectant. But Lawson managed it with the sort of drive in Singapore you often associate with more experienced drivers.
A lot of promise for the future
As the BBC highlights, if Lawson’s place as a first-choice driver isn’t to be in 2024, many believe his time will come eventually. Like his time previously in Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, and Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, he has shown how quickly he can adapt to different racing environments and categories. That he did the same in Formula 1 is the most impressive, though.
In doing so, he has added to New Zealand’s limited but significant contribution to F1 racing. There’s 1967 champion Denny Hulme and one of the finest drivers to never win an F1 race, Chris Amon. And no one is going to forget Auckland-born Bruce McLaren, the founder of the legendary team McLaren Racing Team.
You can argue Lawson needs more time to mature. Inconsistent performances as well as reliability issues hampered his stints in Formula 2 with Hitech GP and Carlin. However, he maintained a solid record of finishing strongly. In 2021, he enjoyed three podium finishes including a race win in Bahrain. In 2022, he added two sprint race wins to his resume and further podium finishes.
Despite his Formula 1 career being in its infancy, his achievements are garnering attention. As covered by Yahoo Sports, Karun Chandhok, a former racing driver turned TV pundit, believes other teams will consider Lawson for 2024. He highlighted Logan Sargeant’s performances at Williams and suggested the British team might be one of those willing to offer Lawson a seat.
Others feel the New Zealander has shown maturity beyond his years. It’s worth noting his impressive start to Formula 1 came after being snubbed for a seat three times previously. Colton Herta, Nyck de Vries, and Daniel Ricciardo have all been given opportunities ahead of him. It means Lawson has had to wait patiently.
The patience he has shown is now paying off. It’s, therefore, not just his skill as a driver that makes him a worthy first choice for a team wanting a hungry young racer with an assured head on his shoulders.