F1 driver Liam Lawson to race at the NZ Kart Grand Prix meeting
Formula 1 racing and reserve driver Liam Lawson will be back racing a go-kart this weekend in the premiere KZ2 class at the KartSport Hamilton track.
Lawson won the City of Sails title in Auckland last year but wasn’t able to enter this year due to testing commitments in Italy. However he’s back for the APL Window Solution NZ Grand Prix meeting after finishing third at the same track last year, backed once again by the meeting’s sponsor.
Missing out on the racing at the previous meeting and with limited testing, Lawson admits he’ll be playing catch-up. Other commitments will also mean he misses out on a morning of the official practice day on Friday.
“Unfortunately we’re missing a huge amount of practice so it’s going to be a very tough weekend. The guys that I’m racing, like every other year, the competition looks very, very high. Even more so this year than last year. But I’m excited to be racing,” said Lawson.
“All the trainers that I’ve worked with love all the time we can spend in a go-kart between racing, whether it’s Formula 1 or Formula 2 or Super Formula, it’s something that is very good for a driver to do on the side. That’s because it is extremely physical and even for me with all the training we do.
“When I come home to drive a go-kart it takes a few solid days to basically get comfortable because of how physical they are. In KZ you’ve got a six-speed sequential gearbox and you’re probably shifting 25 to 30 times a lap, so it’s very busy and very physical.”
Lawson says that in karting everything is small-scale compared to a full-size car racing circuit and therefore everything happens so quickly. “So you’re sort of speeding up the brain which is also good for us,” he adds.
Lawson started racing karts at six years old and went on to win multiple national titles before progressing into car racing as a teen, but coming back to the go-kart track is always a good experience for him.
“Going to a kart meeting is cool because there’s always a whole bunch of new guys, young kids coming into the sport and then there’s a lot of guys I grew up racing still doing it at a very high level so I get to race these guys again which is really cool. Coming back, in some ways lots changed but in some ways it hasn’t changed much, still feels like the same atmosphere.”
Lawson rose to international prominence last year for his five stand-in Grands Prix for Scuderia AlphaTauri but he takes competing in the NZ Karting Grand Prix just as seriously.
“No matter what I’ve done in racing here it still feels just as serious, high competition and I get just as nervous as I was at 10 years old racing go karts.”
This is the third year in a row Lawson has driven a kart for his former coach and mentor Matthew Kinsman, now running International Kart Supplies, also the Sodi kart agent.
“Since I was very very young Matt has coached me and run me in karting. When I was growing up he was my absolute idol,” reflected Lawson.
“He doesn’t get back in a go kart that often now but when he does he’s still very, very competitive. Honestly, I’ve never seen anybody drive a go kart like he does. He’s the fastest guy I’ve seen.”
“And it’s so nice to have APL Window Solutions back supporting me. They support KartSport New Zealand and to have them partner with us for these go kart races every year is very cool. I hope it’s something I can keep doing in the future.”
09-11 February: New Zealand Karting Grand Prix, KartSport Hamilton track.
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Liam Lawson racing his Sodi KZ2 go-kart last year when he won the City of Sails and finished 3rd in CIK at Hamilton.