Liam Lawson says returning to New Zealand to contest a second season of the Toyota Racing Series was an excellent decision as it has ensured his absence from a race car over the coronavirus-induced season hiatus has not been as prolonged as many of his FIA Formula 3 rivals.
The 18-year-old returned to M2 Competition in a bid to defend his 2019 crown, finishing the season second having claimed five victories and only an unfortunate retirement during the feature race from Hampton Downs the defining factor in seeing teammate and season-long rival Igor Fraga lift the title.
Following his Toyota Racing Series campaign, Lawson returned to the UK to undergo preparation for the second F3 season with British outfit Hitech Grand Prix.
A pre-season test from the Bahrain International Circuit would be the kiwi’s sole opportunity to pilot his Dallara F3 before he was compelled to return to New Zealand as the global pandemic suspended the start to the new season.
As the health threat of the virus slowly abates, the F3 championship has confirmed a rapid-fire eight-round will commence the first weekend of July at the revised Austrian Grand Prix.
Since returning to the UK earlier in the month, Lawson has restarted his pre-season preparations and has admitted his stint in TRS over the New Zealand summer has quickly appeared as an ideal decision in keeping himself race fit.
“I think it was a really good decision to do the TRS, especially when you look back now, there are so many drivers who have not been racing basically since last season,” Lawson told RedBull.com.
“Even for me it’s been a long time since I raced a car, but I have been racing more recently than a lot of the guys I’m up against.
“So it was a very good championship to do, obviously the result was not perfect, it was not what we were looking for but we went into that championship to prepare myself for going back to Europe as race ready as I could be and I think that goal was achieved.
“I think we did a good job over the whole five weeks as a team. There were a few things outside of our control that didn’t help our championship and then maybe a few mistakes from my side as well. But I think it was still a good five weeks and I’m very glad to have done it.”
Lawson did admit the feeling of returning to the UK did feel slightly uncanny as the nation continues to battle the impacts of Covid-19, but nonetheless, racing remains his primary priority.
“I flew to the UK in the second week of June, I’ve visited Red Bull Racing and Hitech to start the season preparations finally,” he said. “It was a bit of a weird feeling arriving here from New Zealand where we have been virus-free.
“I am super excited to be back in the UK for the start of the season, but it is not the same situation here. It is a bit strange but I just try not to think about it too much, I just want to get racing.
“I had a Covid test at Hitech, I am clear and we are working on the season preparation. It’s great to be involved with such a high-level team. I was impressed with the way they prepare.
“We go through all of the last season’s data, the images from the onboard cameras, the regulations, they have a simulator so we work in that as well. I knew what to expect, just how thorough they are because we did three days of prep prior to the preseason test in Bahrain back in March. That was extremely thorough even just for a test.”
Lawson will have back-to-back races to kickstart his 2020 F3 campaign from Spielberg, with a 40-minute practice session on Friday his sole opportunity to get a feeling for the car before qualifying which is slated for 12 am NZT Sunday, July 5.