AlphaTauri has officially confirmed that Liam Lawson will compete for the team at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix in place of the injured Daniel Ricciardo, who continues to recover from a broken hand. Ricciardo will be present with the team at the event only for engineering purposes.
Lawson has impressed on the world stage since his late call-up to race at Zandvoort, finishing 13th on debut before missing out on the points by only one place at Monza. Despite the unexpected nature of his introduction to the series, he says he is quickly adapting to life in the paddock.
“Having done two races now, I’m getting a better understanding of the difference between the tyre compounds, which is so important,” he said. “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.”
The Marina Bay course will present a different challenge for the 21-year-old, being his first time in a Formula 1 car on a street circuit. Joining him in the paddock will be his family, who are travelling from New Zealand to take in the action.
“I was in Singapore last year as a reserve driver,” he says. “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!
Lawson adds that he’s been preparing for the race as much as possible, but it’ll be a different story when they hit the track for the first time on Friday and race under lights on Sunday.
“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,” he says. 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.”
Being his third Formula 1 race, Lawson will lose his rookie status when he does begin his first full-time campaign. It also makes him ineligible to partake in Red Bull’s mandatory FP1 rookie session later in the year, as he did in 2022 when he drove Max Verstappen’s car at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
It does, however, give him vital extra track time ahead of when that time does come.