Wet conditions following a late call-up have made for a challenging debut Grand Prix weekend for Liam Lawson at Zandvoort, but the Kiwi proved resilient to complete 26 laps in FP3 ahead of tonight’s qualifying run. The session was Lawson’s first of the Dutch Grand Prix following a call-up to replace AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo, who was injured in an FP2 crash this morning.
While Lawson’s best lap was over 4.5 seconds behind the fastest of the session, set by Max Verstappen, he kept things clean in difficult conditions for most of his run, the only exception being a spin in the final stages that triggered a brief red flag. He would keep the car from hitting the wall and returned to proceedings shortly after.
Lawson took to the track on wet tyres the minute the session began, treading cautiously over a tricky surface. Max Verstappen provided an early insight into how slippery the track was, running off at the banked Turn 3 and narrowly avoiding the wall before returning to the pits.
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen would follow Verstappen’s lead at the same corner just minutes later but instead spun into the wall, which damaged his left front and triggered a red flag.
The session resumed eight minutes later and saw a busier track, and conditions continued to challenge drivers. Charles Leclerc triggered a yellow flag at Turn 1 shortly after the restart by running long into the run-off before returning to the track.
Alpine’s Pierre Gasly explored the gravel moments later, as did Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou. The former kept momentum to return to the track, but the latter’s spin and stranding at the penultimate corner triggered a second red flag before the session’s mid-point.
Twenty-five minutes remained following the second restart, and Carlos Sainz immediately followed his teammate’s lead to explore the run-off at Turn 1 before returning to the track.
Ocon slid head-on into the wall at a slow speed with 15 minutes to run, receiving no damage, while Lawson’s change to intermediate tyres left him facing the wrong way on the final turn following a spin late in the session, which triggered a third red flag.
The rear of Lawson’s AlphaTauri catching a slippery outside kerb on the entry of the final right-hander proved his undoing, the car snapping into a spin to the right and nudging the inside barrier. He appeared to escape damage but was left stranded and facing the wrong way with the field approaching. He returned to the pits under his own power and was back on track in the final minutes, setting his best time shortly after.
Leclerc again running long at Turn 1 following the restart showed conditions had not become easier, but a dry line forming in the closing stages did see lap times begin to reduce.
Verstappen took to the gravel on his final flyer, ruining his fastest first sector, but his earlier 1:21.631 was enough to top the session.
George Russell set the second-quickest time, 0.379 seconds off Verstappen’s best, and Sergio Perez was third, one second off the pace of his teammate.
Lawson’s best lap was 4.712 seconds off Verstappen’s for 18th, but the Kiwi completed 26 laps, the majority on full wet tyres.
Formula 1 returns to action at 1:00 a.m. (NZ time) for qualifying.
Photo: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images (Red Bull Content Pool)