Tuesday, Feb 12 06:00pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Contracts come knocking for Formula 1 hopeful Liam Lawson

New Zealand could have a Kiwi back in the Formula 1 paddock in years to come if rumours doing the rounds are true.


Liam Lawson is hot property after winning the 64th New Zealand Grand Prix and the Castrol Toyota Racing Series in his debut season. It was a sweet birthday present for the Hawke’s Bay-born Pukekohe-based driver who turned 17 on Monday.


Rumours were rife throughout the paddock at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon last weekend that Lawson had at least four contracts on offer going into the final round of the championship.


It’s looking good for Lawson; understands that several teams at the upper echelon of the sport have approached his management with long-term racing contracts.


Red Bull Racing and Renault Sport are believed to have made offers. Rumours regarding Ferrari by proxy of Alfa Romeo have also surfaced. Other teams have been floated, but the strongest indications lean towards Red Bull and Renault.


Behind one of those rumours is a significant Kiwi connection. M2 Competition will race in the new-look Formula Renault Eurocup this season, the same team that Lawson won the Toyota Racing Series with this year.


Jonathan Moury, M2 Competition co-owner, recently traveled to Europe for the Formula Renault Eurocup shakedown with their new Formula 3-based car. Sources have indicated that he has been lobbying Renault Sport to take on Lawson.


When asked about whether he could say what the future holds Lawson said: “Unfortunately I can’t because I don’t even know what it is yet.


“[The Toyota Racing Series] has certainly helped. When You’re running in TRS – because in Europe and overseas it’s Winter time – everybody looks at this.


“It definitely has helped because we’ve had some really good success during the last five weeks. What the option is I’m not too sure yet.


“We should know in the next week.”


Liam Lawson's success to date:

  • 2015: SpeedSport Scholarship winner
  • 2015-'16: New Zealand Formula First, 1 win, 6th overall
  • 2016-'17: New Zealand Formula 1600, 14 wins, 1st overall
  • 2017: CAMS Australian Formula 4, 5 wins, 2nd overall
  • 2018: ADAC German Formula 4, 3 wins, 2nd overall
  • 2018: Asian Formula 3, 3 races, 3 wins, 8th overall
  • 2019: Toyota Racing Series, 5 wins, 1st overall

Formula 3 is the next logical step for Lawson who could stay in the M2 Competition stable and join the Renault Sport Academy – a similar set up to the Ferrari Driver Academy that fellow countryman Marcus Armstrong is part of.


Last year Lawson finished second in the ADAC German Formula 4 Championship with Van Amersfoort Racing. It is still possible that Lawson could stay with VAR in Formula European Masters (Formerly known as the FIA European Formula 3 Championship).


Lawson tested a Dallara F317 with the team at the beginning of the year alongside fellow M2 Competition driver Artem Petrov. Prior to the Toyota Racing Series season beginning this year that looked most likely for the young New Zealander.


Contract talks began as early as the first round of the five-week series after a stellar debut at Highlands Motorsport Park saw the then 16-year-old won two of the three races.


Lawson went on to win the title over Armstrong by a mere 10 points in a showdown that went down to the last outing in the 15-race season.


Indications are that an announcement is likely to come soon, but with more contract opportunities rolling in for the 17-year-old, he and his management may need to take their time to read through them all.