Liam Lawson completed 125 laps of the Abu Dhabi circuit and finished his debut Formula 1 test outing with the second-fastest time in a 2021-spec AlphaTauri car.
The Kiwi’s best lap was 1.3 seconds adrift of Nyck de Vries in the Mercedes, but ahead of reigning Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri and F1 rookie-to-be Guanyu Zhou.
“It’s incredible how unbelievably fast these cars are,” Lawson said.
“I’ve driven in the simulator before and when I’m there I always think that there’s no way that the car can actually be that quick in real life, but it really is.”
AlphaTauri race engineer Jonathan Eddolls was proud of how quickly Lawson adapted to the environment of an F1 car and test day.
“He adapted quickly to the handling and speed of the current Formula 1 machinery and after just the first couple of runs he had built up the pace to a level where we could start to complete some test items with him, to give him a feel of the car with a variety of car balances,” Eddolls said.
“It was a pleasure working with him and we can already see from this short working relationship that he has great potential and will have a very bright future in motorsport.”
Lawson’s best lap, a 1.24.517, would have had him start 18th in last weekend’s Grand Prix, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and both Haas cars.
Piastri was one-hundredth of a second slower than Lawson.
IndyCar race winner Pato O’Ward was fourth in the McLaren. He was astounded by the difference between the two open-wheel categories.
“[F1] is something that seems so much bigger than anything you could ever imagine,” O’Ward said.
“And it is, I mean, man, there are 750 people working here for two cars. Like, you don’t see that anywhere else.
“And even IndyCar, that’s such a competitive series, when you see the difference of how each team operates is huge, like huge differences and just two very different types of competing.”
Many full-time F1 drivers were also present for the test. However, they used mule cars, which were slower than the 2021-spec machines.
Daniel Ricciardo was fastest in the mule cars, ahead of Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc.
Valtteri Bottas had his first test day with the Alfa Romeo team, who he’ll be racing with in the 2022 season after five years at Mercedes.
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