Liam Lawson has unquestionably been dragging his ailing Hitech GP outfit along the 2020 FIA Formula 3 season with both hands as week-in-week-out the young Kiwi delivers impressive results in a car dogged with frequent reliability woes.
It is unsurprising Lawson has scored a mammoth 84% of the team’s total points haul which after six rounds has them sat fourth in the constructors’ championship. Two wins and four podium finishes for the Kiwi leaves him as perhaps the only driver left who can take a dent out of the seemingly invincible Prema outfit who comfortably lead both championships.
Lawson currently sits third in the standings on 99 points, 32 adrift of championship leader Logan Sargeant with 105 points on offer for the remainder of the season.
This has all come after he suffered several engine mishaps in Hungary which culminated in a double DNF and countless qualifying sessions plagued by tyre issues in which Lawson has struggled to generate sufficient temperatures to maximise his car’s potential.
Lawson admitted after the recent Spanish Grand Prix event his engine drama in qualifying cost him a certain pole position, his third pole of the year gone begging and 12 valuable points along with it.
All these reliability issues have seemingly appeared from the blue as Hitech GP had just come off one of their most impressive displays in junior formulae in 2019 where they finished second behind Prema, scoring four wins across its trio of drivers.
This documented success would have likely been at the forefront of Lawson’s decision making when offered the opportunity to seal a drive with the team. But now, the Kiwi has had to orchestrate his own one-man-band as he dices and duels with the front runners while soldiering on through a multitude of reliability issues.
It seems Lawson has become something of a Charles Leclerc in 2020 as the Monegasque also singlehandedly outperforms the duff SF1000 Ferrari at most Formula 1 Grands Prix, collecting unlikely podiums and continuingly thumping his four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel.
With teammates in mind, Lawson has barely shared the same piece of tarmac with either Max Fewtrell or Dennis Hauger. Barring his standout drive in a wet Hungary, Hauger has also been littered with dramas and qualifying woes while Fewtrell has had a more muted championship campaign after a breakout season with ART last year and confirmed in the lead up to this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix he has split from the team with immediate effect.
Perhaps one of Lawson’s most impressive traits this season has been his sharp racecraft demonstrated at the recent race in Spain. One of the only drivers to helm a strategy which kept his tyres in check for the entire race, Lawson was able to make lightwork of title rival Sargeant in the dying laps and potentially could have challenged eventual race winner Jake Hughes.
Despite his success, the Red Bull Junior has constantly reiterated how far behind his team’s performance up against the dominant Prema squad.
“It’s important that we finish in front of these guys championship-wise,” he said in Spain.
“But, obviously, we’re still quite a way behind so we’ve got to be careful not to look too closely at [the championship standings].”
Lawson will have to finish ahead of both Prema rivals this weekend at Spa, a circuit the Kiwi knows well, to keep the championship leaders feeling the pressure coming into the final two rounds in Italy.
The series finale is due to be run at Mugello, a track the F3 paddock has never visited and unlikely one many of the field have had experience running on.
F3 will have its first race at Spa on August 29 at 8.30 pm NZT.