Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Lawson Eager to Find Confidence Early on During Singapore Grand Prix Weekend

After missing out on points during the Italian Grand Prix by under seven seconds, Liam Lawson says he is still adapting to life racing in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with the New Zealander aiming for more from his performance this weekend in Singapore.

Lawson continues to stand in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo at Scuderia AlphaTauri as the Australian recovers from the broken wrist he sustained during practice for the Dutch Grand Prix, but after the race weekends at Circuit Zandvoort and the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, he feels more at home behind the wheel of the AT04.

“I definitely felt more comfortable in Monza than in Zandvoort, even if there’s still a lot to learn,” said Lawson.  “When you get more comfortable in these kinds of cars, it can make quite a big difference.

“Having done two races now, I’m also getting a better understanding of the difference between the tyre compounds, which is so important. I’d say Monza was pretty successful, even if it was disappointing to finish so close to the points.

“I think if I had had a better start, perhaps things could have been different, but it’s something that I will learn from, and I’m just excited moving forward.”

Lawson experienced the atmosphere and routine of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend last year as part of the reserve driver line-up with Oracle Red Bull Racing, although he has yet to experience driving around the track.

The twenty-one-year-old says he will be looking to build confidence around the Marina Bay Street Circuit by raking up the laps on Friday during practice, and once the confidence comes, he will be able to go on full attack mode, something he hopes comes very early in the weekend.

“I was in Singapore last year as a reserve driver,” he added.  “When I was a kid, it was my favourite circuit. I think because it was a night race and just looked really cool.

“I used to play it on the Formula 1 games all the time. My dad actually used to promise me every year that he would take me to the Singapore Grand Prix, and in the end, we never went, but he’s going to be coming to the Grand Prix this weekend, so actually I’m taking him!

“I know this is a very tough race physically, and when you get thrown into F1 in this situation, even with all the training in the world, it’s still such a tough adjustment. It’s going to be extremely difficult, but we’ve been training for it and doing everything we can to prepare for that.

“Last year, I experienced the nighttime routine. It’s cool, to be honest, to go through a weekend like that. It’s a bit different to normal. Obviously, the biggest adjustment will be getting used to the track, as I’ve only driven it on the sim, and street circuits are probably the hardest to replicate.

“They take confidence, and when you’re new to the track, or even my situation being new to Formula 1, having that confidence early in the weekend is pretty tricky.

“I’ll be aiming to build up as many laps as we can, a bit like Monza, to be honest. That was the target there, and it will be a similar sort of thing. Generally, I like street circuits, for example, I absolutely love Monaco, so I’m expecting to enjoy Singapore too.”

“Singapore is a “real” street track” – Yuki Tsunoda

Team-mate Yuki Tsunoda did not even start the Italian Grand Prix after engine trouble on the way to the grid, and the Japanese driver is hoping for better luck this weekend in Singapore.

It was even more disappointing for Tsunoda that he was forced to pull off to the side of the track on the formation lap, with the pace of the AT04 having looked quite good throughout the weekend up until then.

“Monza did not go well, but on the positive side, up until race day, we showed good pace, showing we made some progress in the last couple of races,” said Tsunoda.   

Heading to Singapore, Tsunoda says he is keen to drive around the track once more having made it into Q3 during last years Qualifying session, and he is aiming to break into the points for only the fourth time this season on Sunday evening under the floodlights. 

“Now we head to Asia and a double-header, starting with the Singapore street circuit,” he said.  “I enjoy driving the track and got through to Q3 last year in tricky conditions when we couldn’t use slicks until the final part, as the track was wet at the start.

“With a street circuit – Singapore is a “real” street track because every part of it is a public road – the condition of the track surface always changes from year to year and session to session. You have to build up gradually and do as many laps as possible to gain confidence in the car.

“FP1 will be about assessing track conditions and getting a first idea of how the car behaves to see if it’s suiting the track. We’ll build from there, to be at 100% in time for qualifying.

“For this year, the track has been changed a little bit, especially in Sector 3, where some corners have been cut, providing more opportunity for overtaking.”

Yuki Tsunoda hopes for a strong weekend for AlphaTauri in Singapore – Credit: Peter Fox/Getty Images