Wheel falls off Lawson's podium streak
Sprint Race winner in Saudi Arabia
Liam Lawson’s podium winning streak and his championship lead in Formula 2 came to an end in Saudi Arabia with a loose wheel in pitlane.
After winning the Sprint race on the street circuit at Jeddah, his third podium in a row, the chance to add another in the Feature race came to a grinding halt when his team failed to secure a wheel on the Red Bull-Rodin car at the compulsory pit stop and Lawson was forced to pull the car over and retire just before the the exit of pit lane.
The 20-year-old Kiwi driver was in 3rd place when he entered the pit for his tyre change after staying with race leaders Felipe Drugovich and Richard Verschoor, and looked on target for another podium.
Lawson was released from the pit box after changing from soft to medium tyres, but a crew member failed to secure the left-front wheel nut.
“A great start to the race, got up to P3 quickly and it was all looking good but then lost it all at the pit stop. Mistakes happen, that’s racing, very disappointing obviously,” Lawson admitted after the forced retirement.
“We have plenty of positives from the weekend to carry forward, knowing we have been very competitive in the opening weekends.”
Despite the forced retirement, Lawson still lies second in the championship standings, nine points behind Drugovich and two ahead of his former teammate Verschoor. The pair were teammates at MP Motorsport in Formula 3.
Lawson’s win came after a torrid street fight that saw multiple stoppages for crashes into the concrete barriers. From fifth on the grid, Lawson was soon in third and took over the race lead in the closing laps from Jake Hughes, who was disqualified post-race for not having enough fuel for a sample in his Van Amersfoort Racing car.
“Pretty much the whole race was just about trying to keep as much brake and tyre temperature under those Safety Cars because of those crashes that were happening,” said Lawson in the post-race press conference.
“There were some quite slow Safety Car laps, and in these cars, it’s really, really hard to keep temperature, but when we did have green flag laps the car was really fast. I thought Jake was going to be in a great position, to be honest, because we didn’t have many racing laps and he was on the softs but I was able to stay with him in those first couple of laps and then stay within DRS to make the pass.”
The win had put Lawson into the lead of the championship.
Lawson’s team boss Trevor Carlin praised his new driver signing following his sprint race win.
“It is everything that we hoped for when we were chasing him to sign for us,” Carlin told F2 media.
“He is delivering the goods on everything we expected, so I am pretty happy. He is a smart racer – he knows what it takes and what he needs to do. Even when he doesn’t quite have the car or the tyres under him, he still performs.
“He makes the best of a situation and that is what we’ve seen from him in the last few years. He is delivering now, even when it’s not necessarily obvious that the results are going to come, he makes it happen, so I am impressed.”
One thing Carlin won’t be impressed or happy with is the pit stop that cost Lawson the potential of another podium, even the chance for another victory.
They’ll have time to reflect and improve on their pit stop work before the next round at Imola in Italy in four weeks time. All Formula 2 teams will be in Barcelona, Spain for the final three days of official testing the week prior.
COPYRIGHT FREE IMAGE (3): Liam Lawson (#5) won the Sprint Race in Jeddah but retired in the Feature with a loose wheel exiting pit lane. (Photos: Red Bull Content Pool)
FIA F2 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: Qualifying – Top 6
1. Felipe Drugovich (MP Motorsport) 1:40.422
2. Richard Verschoor (Trident) +0.226
3. Marcus Armstrong (Hitech Grand Prix) +0.628s
4. Ralph Boschung (Campos Racing) +0.635s
5. Liam Lawson (Carlin) +0.720s
6. Ayumu Iwasa (DAMS) +0.213s
Race 1 (Reverse Top 10 grid, 20 laps) – Top 6
2. Juri Vips (Hitech Grand Prix) +3.166s
3. Felipe Drugovich (MP Motorsport) +4.846s
4. Calin Willimas (Trident) +6.277s
5. Richard Verschoor (Trident) +12.121s
6. Iwasa +13.520
Race 2 (Feature Race 27 laps) – Top 6
2. Verschoor +2.379s
3. Jehan Daruvala (PREMA Racing) +15.358s
4. Jake Hughes (Van Amersfoort Racing) +19.117s
5. Armstrong +20.595s
6. Dennis Hauger (PREMA Racing) +21.071s
dnf. Lawson (wheel)
FIA F2 Championship points – Drivers Top 6
1. Drugovich 43
2. Lawson 34
3. Verschoor 32
4. Vips 28
5. Theo Pourchaire (ART Grand Prix) 25
6. Daruvala 25
FIA F2 Championship points – Teams Top 6
1. Hitech Grand Prix 48
2. Carlin 43
3. MP Motorsport 43
4. Trident 37
5. PREMA Racing 33
6. ART Grand Prix 25
Calendar 2022 – FIA F2:
18-20 March, Sakhir, Bahrain
25-27 March, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
22-24 April, Imola, Italy
20-22 May, Barcelona, Spain
27-29 May, Monte Carlo, Monaco
10-12 June, Baku, Azerbaijan
01-03 July, Silverstone, Great Britain
08-10 July, Spielberg, Austria
29-31 July, Budapest, Hungary
26-28 August, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
02-04 September, Zandvoort, Netherlands
09-11 September, Monza, Italy
18-20 December, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, UAE.