Until yesterday, Liam Lawson had only ever done one race in a GT3 car.
That was at Highlands Motorsport Park where he steered an Audi R8 LMS with Scott O’Donnell in the 2020 New Zealand Endurance Championship finale.
Recovering from a heavy shunt in qualifying, Lawson and O’Donnell finished third overall.
Since then, Lawson switched his attention towards a rookie FIA Formula 2 campaign with Hitech GP, where he won on his debut race.
But overnight, Lawson defied several odds to claim victory in the DTM season opener at Monza – only his second race in a GT3 car and is his first in DTM.
At 19-years-old, Lawson becomes the youngest ever winner in category history, a feeling he says he hasn’t fully comprehended yet.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet and it probably won’t for a while,” Lawson said after the race.
“I don’t think myself or the team has really realised what we have just done.
“To win a DTM race is just massive.
“I remember years ago when I was racing in [ADAC] Formula 4, and we were alongside DTM. I just remember how huge a championship it was, and so to be racing in this is a huge opportunity.”
The defining factor in Lawson’s victory was his AF Corsa’s team cunning strategy to pit the Kiwi early.
Following in the wake of the car ahead is challenging, and Lawson acknowledged that his team’s pursuit of clean air with the early pitstop gave him a decisive edge,
“[Following other cars] was hard, it was a lot harder than what I expected in these cars,” Lawson said.
“Sitting behind the Mercedes at the start, I knew that we had faster pace, we just needed clear air.
“So, we boxed early and the guys did an absolutely perfect stop.
“Once we had the lead, we started managing it for the rest of the race.”
Lawson managed the second half of the race to perfection.
He pushed hard on his fresh rubber to ensure he jumped most of the front runners when they made their pitstop.
He also kept his tyres in check so that they had enough life to fight past Vincent Abril for the lead.
To add to the sweetness of the win, Lawson was driving a Ferrari 488 GT3 in the home of Ferrari – Italy.
Ferrari become the first non-German manufacturer to win a DTM race since Alfa Romeo won in 1996.
“To win in Monza in a Ferrari is really special.
“There is definitely a bit for me to learn because it’s quite different but no, for me the first race was good.”