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Motorsport: Liam Lawson hoping to make the most of Formula 1 drive this weekend for AlphaTauri

Liam Lawson will take part in this weekend’s first F1 practice session with AlphaTauri. Photo / Getty Images

Kiwi Formula 2 ace Liam Lawson says a strong second half of the season could be his key to drawing attention when it comes to the numerous seats open in the 2023 Formula 1 season.

Through 10 events of the season, the Red Bull Junior has had impressive pace, however luck hasn’t always been on his side on the track.

With 20 of the 28 races of the season having been raced (every F2 stop having a sprint race and feature race), Lawson has been a constant presence in the top 10, including two race wins and four other podium finishes.

However, the Kiwi has been forced to retire four times – including in three feature races where more points are on offer to drivers. He currently sits eighth in the standings on 88 points.

“In any championship you have to have things go your way,” Lawson told Newstalk ZB’s D’Arcy Waldegrave. “We’ve had good speed throughout the whole season, so if we put everything together – and have a little bit of luck – everything is there to have a good rest of the season.”

The Formula 1 and 2 action returns this weekend at the famed Circuit de Spa Francorchamps in Belgium after a month-long break, and Lawson will be pulling double duty as he takes the first of his two mandatory practice sessions for F1 team AlphaTauri.

Lawson will take Pierre Gasly’s seat in the first practice session of the weekend, getting behind the wheel of the F1 car for an hour-long drive around 11: 30m tonight. While Lawson’s key objective will be to aid the team in preparing their car for the weekend’s racing, he’ll also want to get it back to Gasly in perfect condition.

In preparation for the drive, Lawson said he had done plenty of neck and upper back work in order to strengthen his body for the step up in speed and G-Forces he will experience in the F1 car.

“It’s honestly like another sport,” he said of the main differences in stepping up from F2 into an F1 car.

“It’s always going to be a massive eye opener and I think when I go out it’s going to be a surprise how quick it is, because that’s always the case when you’re going in real life, but the simulator is very close.

“I knew from early in the season that there was a point this year that I would be driving the car, so I’ve had a lot of emotions going on thinking about it, but now it’s more or less just excitement.

“I’m just excited to get the opportunity and there’s not too much pressure further than that. I don’t have an extremely long time in the car, so you can be sure I’ll make the most of the hour that I have . “

While he was thrilled to just be getting behind the wheel, the drive is an opportunity for Lawson to show his quality in an F1 car and prove he is ready for the step up to the next level. After McLaren announced Daniel Ricciardo would be parting ways with the team at the end of the season earlier this week, there are now six open seats for the 2023 F1 season.

While it is expected young Australian driver Oscar Piastri will take over from Ricciardo with McLaren, remaining seats with AlphaTauri, Haas, Alpine, Alfa Romeo and Williams remain up for grabs.

“Obviously it’s exciting with what’s going on in F1 and the opportunities, but none of it matters if we don’t finish strong in F2,” Lawson said.

“Right now, that’s the main focus. To have a good second half of the season and try finish off strongly, because that’s what’s going to give me the opportunities in the future.

“The Formula 1 stuff is very important and I’ll be making the most of it, but at the same time I don’t want to get too excited about it because I’ve got a job to finish in Formula 2.”

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