Lawson expecting 'tough' weekend in Qatar for final outing


Liam Lawson is heading into the unknown in Qatar this weekend, a venue that he'll discover on what will likely be his final outing with AlphaTauri this season.

In all likelihood, Daniel Ricciardo will return to the grid in Austin and reclaim his seat with the Faenza-based squad for the final five races of 2023.

Lawson will therefore have one final opportunity to showcase a talent that has clearly been on display since the start of his interim at Zandvoort at the end of August.

However, the 21-year-old Kiwi, who finished just outside of the points last time out in Japan, will have his work cut out for him in Doha where he will experience for the very first time the intricacies of an F1 Sprint weekend.

This means that, like his colleagues, Lawson will only have a single practice session to learn the Lusail International Circuit and to get up to speed before qualifying on Friday evening.

"I’m not sure how we'll get on there or how the upgrades will work," he commented and AlphaTauri's Qatar Grand Prix preview.

"I think it’s hard to say because where we struggled in Japan was mainly in the high speed, in Sector 1.

"We still have more to learn about our new package, and I’m not so sure that Qatar is the type of circuit that will suit our car.


"Learning takes time, and we've got more opportunities in Qatar to try and get the most out of it.

"However, it’s also a Sprint weekend, so at the same time, that makes it quite tricky, especially in my situation. I've never driven here, so going into the sprint weekend will be extra tough."

Lawson has done his homework ahead of next weekend's event, logging many miles of Lusail on Red Bull's simulator in Milton Keynes last week.

"It’s very fast, a very high-speed circuit and quite unique, and I’ve not seen many tracks like it, as there’s only one low-speed corner in the whole track," he commented.

"The rest is just fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh gear, so I think it’s going to be exciting to drive.

"With only one Free Practice session, we drivers will have to know where to improve because it'll get faster at night when it's much cooler, and we need to know exactly how to extract everything out of the car. I’m expecting it to be tougher than the races we’ve just done."


In Japan, AlphaTauri confirmed that it would continue to entrust its cars to Yuki Tsunoda and to Daniel Ricciardo next season, a decision that Lawson expected but which nevertheless left him a bit disappointed.

He we resume his reserve role with Red Bull Racing at the start of 2024.

"Obviously, my goal is to be in Formula 1 full-time, so as much as it’s disappointing, it’s still my goal, and it’s now about trying to make sure that I can make that happen in the future," he said.

"Right now, I’ve still got this opportunity to keep trying to show something, and I’ll try to make the most of it.

"For now, as long as this lasts, I’ll focus on it, and then once I step back from F1, it'll be full focus on preparing for the final round of the Super Formula championship at Suzuka on the weekend of the Mexican Grand Prix.

"It'll be very different adjusting back to the car, but it’s certainly been useful having driven so many laps at Suzuka throughout the Grand Prix weekend."

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