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Solid F1 debut for Liam Lawson

Liam Lawson made a solid Formula 1 debut after his late call-up to replace the injured Daniel Ricciardo in the Dutch Grand Prix when he finished 13th and the best of the Scuderia AlphaTauri drivers.

The race was red-flagged seven laps from the end and then restarted once a heavy rain shower had passed. Lawson kept his nerve and his car on track for an impressive debut performance.

“The aim was to do all 72 laps today,” said Lawson at the finish. “When I first got on the grid and it started raining, it wasn’t the best feeling. After that, we had no choice but to make the pitstop but unfortunately we got a penalty and lost a huge amount of time during it.”

Lawson followed team-mate Yuki Tsunoda into the pits for their tyres to be changed but was delayed by a slow service for the Japanese driver and picked up a 10-second penalty.

“I think once we got clear air during the second half of the race and then driving on the intermediate tyres at the end, my pace wasn’t so bad. There’s still some work to do, but I’m happy to have gotten through the race, experiencing different conditions and scenarios, to be able to take them forward.”

After a fine start to the race a period of rain arrived, which had the teams scrambling to the pits early in the race to change tyres before the weather cleared again and required another change to slick tyres. With a dozen laps to go the rain arrived at Zandvoort again and the teams were back in for another tyre change to intermediates before the conditions became too wet and the race was suspended.

Lawson made up a few more places in the dash to the chequered flag, his position aided when a five-second time penalty was added to Tsunoda’s time for a race incident and the Kiwi driver moved up to 13th while Tsunoda fell back to 16th.

Lawson impressed AlphaTauri’s Head of Vehicle Performance, Guillaume Dezoteux, who was complimentary of his performances over the weekend in the most trying conditions.

“As for Liam, he did a very good job today, learning about the car and adapting to the conditions, which were constantly evolving,” he said. “He made no mistakes and was able to build up the pace on dry tyres, which he was driving on for the first time in our car. Overall it was a difficult weekend.”

It is expected Lawson will drive next weekend in the upcoming Italian Grand Prix at Monza while Riccardo recuperates from his broken hand injury suffered in a crash during practice for the Dutch Grand Prix, which led to reserve driver Lawson being subbed in with only one practice session before he qualified at the rear of the grid in 20th place.

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