Liam Lawson described his debut Formula 1 drive as a “crazy experience”, which exceeded his expectations in several ways.
Red Bull invited Lawson to drive the RB7 car that won the 2011 world championship with Sebastian Vettel at the weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The Kiwi Formula 2 driver had four runs up the iconic Hillclimb circuit in the RB7, with zero practice beforehand.
Two days after the event, Lawson is still smiling, and it doesn’t look like anything will wipe away his happiness after one of the wildest moments in his career.
“It was a crazy experience,” Lawson told Velocity News.
“I’ve said before that I enjoyed this spec of car more than a modern car because this was around the era when I got into F1.
“I remember watching Red Bull dominate when I was 10 or 11, and that was when I learnt what was going on with F1.
“I watched four years of Vettel dominate. So, to drive the car he and Mark [Webber] drove was crazy.”
Despite being the second-tier series to F1, an F2 car is a significant step below the elite engineering intricacies that make up an F1 machine.
Lawson said there was nothing he could do to prepare for the neck-breaking thrust of an F1 car.
“No, it was not what I expected,” Lawson said with a laugh.
“It is the first car I have driven that is fully developed to be as fast as it can be.
“And it is so, so loud. You can’t hear anything. And it is so nice to drive.
“You feel it through your body and with each gear shift.”
Not many drivers can claim that their first F1 experience was at a Hillclimb.
This year, Marcus Armstrong, another Kiwi on the F2 grid, drove a 2018 Ferrari car around the Fiorano circuit.
Fiorano is a permanent race track with run-off areas and proper crash barriers in case anything goes wrong.
The Goodwood Hillclimb circuit is lined with hay bales and is on a far-from-perfect piece of tarmac.
“It was pretty sketchy, taking an F1 car essentially up someone’s diveway,” Lawson said.
“There is a crown in the road, like on a normal road, and that crown will pull you in quite a lot.
“So, keeping the car in a straight line was quite difficult.”