Liam Lawson says his friendship with Shane van Gisbergen has helped him be a more versatile driver, which is paying off as he tackles Formula 1 as a stand-in for Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo’s broken hand ruled him out of last weekend’s race at Zandvoort and the upcoming Italian Grand Prix at Monza, with Lawson confirmed as the Australian’s replacement until he has recovered. Having raced in DTM, Formula 2 and Super Formula over the past two years, Lawson says he’s learned how to adapt quickly to different machinery, something van Gisbergen — who looks set to transition from Supercars to NASCAR next year — has experience in.
“Obviously, all very different,” Lawson said. “It’s not like DTM specifically helps Formula 1, or Formula 2 specifically helps. But basically, being able to adapt to different things, and doing it quite quickly… Zandvoort was something that was the most challenging for me ever; that situation.
“So I think for sure it helps having that variety of things I’ve driven. I have a close friend, New Zealand driver Shane van Gisbergen, who drives everything that’s different, whether it’s dirt, or tarmac, or cars or bikes, he does everything, and he’s extremely good at adapting to different things. So I think it helps.
“For sure a lot of the New Zealand drivers have been (helpful) to me and he’s somebody that I was lucky enough to meet quite young. But I think also because in New Zealand, it’s very difficult to make it to the top in any direction you go in motorsport. So Iwe all stay quite connected and speak with each other and that’s quite cool to have those relationships.”
Lawson said he’s also had support from Ricciardo and teammate Yuki Tsunoda as he prepares for his first full race weekend, when he expects Red Bull will start looking more at performance.
“We spoke after the announcements, he was still at the track and Daniel being the amazing guy he is, was extremely supportive and offered any help that he could give,” he said. “Obviously, something like this is not the way I would have chosen to come into Formula 1. It’s not something you want to see, especially to someone like Daniel, but you get one shot, and it’s come now.
“Anytime you get a shot… you really only get one shot at Formula 1. For me, that’s come right now. So, I understand for sure the importance of it, but it’s not like something that I’m I’m looking at trying to set up for next year. Right now the focus is on this weekend and how important it is. But that’s really as far as it goes.
“There’s not a clear target (from Red Bull), like a position or something like that from the weekend, just to continue to improve. But I’m sure before the weekend or after practice at least we’ll have more of an idea of where we sit sort of with everybody. And then maybe I have more of a clear target.”