Liam Lawson may need a miracle to keep his improbable Formula 3 championship hopes in tact ahead of the penultimate Formula 3 round this weekend at Monza, but he admits his sole focus right now is to challenge for race victories.
The young Kiwi has picked up two race wins this season, both of which were reverse top-10 races. While sound results, Lawson knows that unfortunate qualifying errors and engine dramas have cost him potential pole positions and feature race wins which rewards drivers with a significantly better points haul.
It has left Lawson fourth in the standings and trailing provisional leader Logan Sargeant by 41 points heading into a circuit which last year saw him deliver a podium result after a dominat drive with a relatively sub-par team.
But by keeping the championship out of his mind, it should pave way for his central focus to be zeroed in on his performance for the weekend, and he has already identified the tow of the cars in front will play a pivotal influence on the results.
“I like the track, obviously, like Spa, it’s a very historic track so I’m excited,” said Lawson. “It’s going to be a fascinating weekend for sure.
“For Quali, like last year, it is going to be interesting to see what people do with the tow and that sort of thing.
“Obviously, there are two ways to go, you either go for the tow to get the best lap possible or you play it safe and drive by yourself. I am curious to see how it plays out.”
Tyres have been a nuisance for Lawson this season. Across the year he has constantly experienced struggle trying to get the tyres into an ideal operating window for qualifying, and the problem seemed to spring up again at Spa in the first race of the weekend.
However, this weekend will have Lawson run the softest compound of tyre available for the first time this year. With Monza a traditionally gentle circuit on tyre degradation, there is a wide extent of unknowns as to how the drivers will adapt to the softer rubber and how each car will be affected.
“As for the races, it will be the first time I have run on the soft this year so that will make things slightly different as well,” he added.
“The main focus for us is to try and clean up a little bit on some of the mistakes we have been making, issues that have been costing us a lot of points.
“We need points but we are certainly not fixated on the total. The championship is not out of the door but it is clear that at this stage we would need a bit of luck so there is no point in worrying about that.
“We’ve just got to go out and concentrate on winning races, then we’ll see where we end up.”
Lawson will have a pair of 22-lap races this weekend and will be thankful the weather forecast is predicting low chances of precipitation.
The first F3 race of the weekend gets underway from 8.25 pm NZT September 5.