Lawson “reasonably satisfied” with F1 debut at Dutch GP: “I felt more comfortable than yesterday”

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The young Kiwi driver has officially completed his first ever Formula 1 weekend competing also his first ever race in the category.

Called up after FP2 and Daniel Ricciardo’s crash, which unfortunately left him with broken bones in his hand, Lawson started his first ever GP from P20 and managed his way through very different conditions in the 72 race laps to end up in P13, ahead of his teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

From a wet start, to the track drying up enough to run on softs, to even more rain in the final, frantic laps, including safety cars and red flags, Lawson truly experienced it all on his F1 debut. He also had to serve a 10 seconds time penalty for impeding Kevin Magnussen in the pits because of a double stack by AlphaTauri.

The 21-year-old broke down what happened this afternoon at Zandovort, focusing on the main positive he got out of it: experience with a wide range of conditions, which will definitely help him should he race at Monza.

“It was a little bit sketchy, the conditions obviously were all over the place. Rolling out to the grid it started raining, which definitely wasn’t the best feeling. But throughout the race I was obviously learning an huge amount,” he said.

Photo credit: Scuderia AlphaTauri

Getting into a Formula One car is never easy, and it’s even harder to do so without having all three practice sessions to get used to the behaviour of the car and setting it up, but Lawson mentioned starting to have a more positive feeling as the race went on, and he believes a big step was already made compared to Saturday.

“The first part it wasn’t the best, we lost a lot of time with the [double] stack and the pitstop and the penalty, and that’s all part of it obviously, but in the second half I think I started to get a bit of feeling on the softs in clean air and on the inters as well.

“I felt a lot more comfortable than yesterday, that’s for sure,” he concluded, recalling his first day on the new job, which hadn’t been the easiest and featured spinning off track in his first official outing during FP3 and qualifying in P20.

Asked if he was proud of his performance and bringing the car home, the former DTM and F2 driver responded like a true racer always looking to improve.

“You always look back and I’ll reflect on it this, and there’s definitely things I would have liked to do better, but I think I’m reasonably satisfied with that.”

His on track battles with Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc were also brought up, with the Kiwi driver pleased to have had the opportunity to fight with him in spite of the “frustratition” ithe long time it took him to pass the Monegasque driver.

“That was quite eventful to be fair, I think he was struggling a lot on the softs and we… every time I would pass him, he would just pass me back down the straight, so it was a little bit frustrating, but obviously it’s good to get experience.

“I feel like I had experience of different situation in that race, with multiple pit stops, wheel-to-wheel racing, rain, dry. It was a good learning experience,” he summed up.

Daniel Ricciardo underwent surgery earlier today in Spain with Dr. Mir, who had also helped with the recovery of Lance Stroll from his biking accident before the start of the season. It is widely expected that Lawson will fill in for the Australian in the next round at Monza, even if the Italian team based in Faenza have not made it official yet.