Red Bull’s Liam Lawson Reveals The Secrets Behind Max Verstappen’s Third Formula 1 Championship

It's what sets World Champions apart.

Red Bull’s Liam Lawson Reveals The Secrets Behind Max Verstappen’s Third Formula 1 Championship

Image: Getty/Red BUll Content Pool

Liam Lawson, Red Bull’s reserve driver, has spoken about his early experiences in Formula 1 and reveals the secrets behind three-time World Champion Max Verstappen’s scintillating pace this season.

After Daniel Ricciardo suffered an unfortunate accident during a practice session at the Dutch Grand Prix, Red Bull’s then junior driver, Liam Lawson felt a peculiar flash that surged through him from the garage. It was unclear the extent of Ricciardo’s injury, although a radio call suggested significant damage to his left hand.. and then Lawson got the call.

“There was probably like two hours of talks about it,” Lawson revealed on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast. “It was very, very likely – it was possible – because obviously after the incident we knew the situation with Daniel’s hand, but we weren’t 100% sure on what the exact injury would be.”

Zandvoort isn’t exactly the most forgiving place to kickstart your Formula 1 career, but the young Kiwi driver came out unscathed. For Lawson, who had spent the majority of the season competing for the Super Formula title in Japan, a single practice session in wet and hostile conditions was the only opportunity he had to make an early mark in the sport he’s been dreaming of his entire life.

Liam Lawson enjoyed a respectable start to life in Formula 1. Image: Getty

“That’s the hardest part about it because for most of them, I didn’t really know how many I was going to get. Especially for Zandvoort, because of the way the weekend was so tough. I knew I didn’t really have my chance to show something and obviously, it’s a little bit stressful thinking: ‘If this is my only shot in F1, this sucks,’ basically. To go and show something in F1, this wasn’t the place to do it.”

Lawson finished P13, ahead of his new teammate Yuki Tsunoda, and would go on to compete in the next four subsequent races in F1 standing in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo. It was a huge step up for the rookie Kiwi driver, but one that Lawson seized with both hands; all his years of racing had led him to this moment.

“Obviously I always want to be driving, and I think the thing is, before F1 it had been my whole life, you know, working towards it. I always expected what it would be like but you never really know what it’s like in F1 until you really drive.”

It didn’t take long during those first laps in Zandvoort for Lawson to truly comprehend the difference between the cars in Formula 1. Each decision had to be calculated, timely and executed to perfection in order to get the very best out of the new AlphaTauri car in which he found himself. And he quickly discovered the secrets to the success of F1’s most successful drivers.

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Liam Lawson competes with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri in Monza. Image: XPB Images

“The car’s so fast, it takes so much commitment that if you have any hesitation about what you’re doing, about what inputs you’re putting in – with steering, with throttle, with braking or anything like that; if you’re not 100% confident to throw the car in, you lose so much lap time; you lose so much confidence with what’s happening.”

“That’s the difference, I think, when you look at a driver like Max [Verstappen], he’s just so comfortable all the time. He’s been in this car for so much time that now – I mean he’s always been like this – but he’s so comfortable that he knows exactly what’s going to happen when he does something with the car and I think that’s when you start extracting those last little bits in Formula 1.”

Max Verstappen has been a man on a singular mission this season; the Dutchman entered Formula 1 this year a two-time World Champion and no intention of relinquishing his crown in pursuit of a third championship. The Red Bull driver won all but three races this season, spending the majority of the year out in P1 with the pursuing midfield pack in his rearview mirrors.

While it was confirmed that Liam Lawson won’t share the grid with his Red Bull teammate for the upcoming season, his early Formula 1 races have undoubtedly proven invaluable for his ongoing journey in the sport; it’s only a matter of time before he secures a permanent seat of his own.