Motorsport: Kiwi driver Liam Lawson staying grounded as Red Bull Formula One prospects advance

Kiwi Liam Lawson is keeping his feet on the ground, concentrating on finishing his Formula Two season on a high before any step up into motorsport's pinnacle.

Last Sunday (NZ time) 20-year-old Lawson achieved his second victory of the Formula Two season, taking the chequered flag in the sprint race at Le Castellet, France.

The win came in dramatic fashion, forced to pull off an overtake on compatriot Marcus Armstrong, after dropping down the grid with a poor start.

Liam Lawson celebrates victory in Saudi Arabia.
Liam Lawson celebrates victory in Saudi Arabia. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

The win was Red Bull junior driver Lawson's first since the second round of the season in Saudi Arabia's Jeddah, back in March.

Now, Lawson's biggest challenge will be to produce the same results on a regular basis.

"[It was] a bit of relief yeah," Lawson told Newshub. "It was just nice to have a good race, honestly.

"The goal is to be doing those performances on the Sundays - that's when the most points are available.

"Considering the circumstances of the sprint race, it was a nice way to do it. If I'd had a great start and led from the start, it would have been a different story. 

Liam Lawson drives for Carlin in Formula Two.
Liam Lawson drives for Carlin in Formula Two. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

"But because we had to fight through and show the speed of the car, have some close battles, that made it a bit more special.

"Because of the recent rounds, it's been pretty tough the last couple of months. It was a relief to just finally grab some points, and obviously win another race again."

With five rounds of this Formula Two season remaining, Lawson sits fifth in the drivers championship, with 78 points from 18 races.

And with 10 races to go, the Kiwi knows looking too far ahead can be detrimental to any chances of further victories.

"I'm not even looking at the championship, honestly," he added. "It's obviously unrealistic to try and target the championship win.

"So for me, I want to have more races like the Paul Ricard sprint race, and have highlights throughout the rest of the year. I want to finish as high up as I can, but I want to focus on that rather than try to look at it in a championship perspective.

"You can catch yourself out, and I'm not in a position to do that right now. I'm looking to finish the year strongly."

Up next, is Hungary, where Lawson returns for the first time since Formula Three.

Two years ago, Lawson suffered a double did-not-finish across the sprint and feature races, but isn't letting any bad memories affect his ambitions for the coming races, starting on Sunday morning (NZ time).

"It's been a bit of time, but it's a cool place. It's a nice track, it's hard to overtake, so qualifying will be very important.

Liam Lawson wins in France.
Liam Lawson wins in France. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

"To be fair, this place hasn't been great to me in the past. But I don't look at any of the previous years.

"I'm just looking at this weekend. We have all the ingredients to have a good weekend.

"That's the target, and not looking at what happened in previous years. It's more [about] trying to carry on the momentum of last weekend."

Already on the radar of the Red Bull higher-ups, Lawson can take confidence from the backing of the senior team.

After testing for Formula One outfit Alpha Tauri at the end of 2021, and stepping into a reserve role this year, Lawson has now also been added into Red Bull's stocks - also as a reserve driver.

On paper, that means should any one of Yuki Tsunoda, Pierre Gasly, Sergio Perez or world champion Max Verstappen be unavailable to race, Lawson would find himself in a Formula One season.

Despite that though, Lawson knows his priority has to sit with where he is at present, and concentrate on finishing as best he can with Carlin in Formula Two.

"I'm extremely grateful to be in this position, but at the same time, I'm honestly not trying to look at it too much right now," Lawson says.

"It's a great position to be in, but it's not worth looking at until I do the best job I can in Formula Two.

"It's great for my learning, I spend a lot of time in the simulator and doing work with the team, and learning a lot more about the Formula One side of things.

"But there's no point getting excited about it now, because I need to do a better job in Formula Two before any of that is realistic."

And with that carrot of a Formula One seat dangled so close to him, Lawson is fully aware that he'll only be given the opportunity to step up if he puts in the kind of results that make him an irresistible choice for Red Bull.

"I'm in the same programme I've been in for the last four years, and it's all performance based, and it always has been.

"From my side, I just need to perform at the highest level I can every time I step in the car.

"That'll give me the best opportunity to eventually make that step, or step into future roles."