Liam Lawson was called upon last-minute to replace Daniel Ricciardo last weekend, and the 21-year-old has quickly found his feet. Despite the instability at AlphaTaui in recent months, the team finds itself with two points contenders in Monza.
Tsunoda secured a solid P11 grid slot for Sunday’s race, whilst Lawson was within two-tenths of his teammate. In a sport where drivers can take years to find their feet, Lawson’s rate of progression in one week is fantastic.
Moreover, given the severity of Ricciardo’s injury, the youngster’s form could cement himself as a genuine contender to join the F1 grid full-time in 2024.
Very few drivers can compete with established drivers so quickly, even in the mixed conditions the Kimi faced in Zandvoort. With three free practice sessions under his belt, points are legitimately on the table.
Lawson explained his progress, showing a level of self-criticism common among F1 drivers:
“Overall, we’ve been progressing over the sessions, building up my confidence.
“You can feel the limit, but it’s also about knowing the step up in grip between the different compounds – if you make changes to [know] what it’s going to do to the car. And that just takes some time.
“With both cars being so close to Q3, we definitely had the potential to make it, but unfortunately, Alonso went off the track right in front of me, so there was some gravel on my line.
“However, it would’ve been tight regardless. I’m happy to have made some improvements, and I’m sure there’s more to come.
“It’s a good position to be starting in, and with both cars so close to each other, I’m positive about points for the team tomorrow.”
Though the likes of Alex Albon have suffered from being praised too quickly in F1, it is difficult to overlook the excellent speed Lawson is demonstrating.
A full race distance on Sunday will provide further insight, although the grid’s newest addition is already exceeding expectations.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang