Motorsport: Kiwi driver Liam Lawson moves on from disappointment of missing Formula One seat

Despite the disappointment of missing out on a Formula One seat for 2023, Kiwi Liam Lawson's confidence in reaching motorsport's pinnacle hasn't taken a hit - far from it.

With Pierre Gasly's moving to Alpine next year, Alpha Tauri - the sister team of Red Bull - have opted for Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries to fill their vacant seat, bypassing several Red Bull junior drivers, including Lawson.

The decision seems a harsh call from the Italian-based outfit, with Lawson, 20, currently the reserve driver for both Red Bull-owned Formula One teams.

On top of that, he has already taken part in two Formula One free practice sessions with Alpha Tauri this year.

In the latest of those, last Saturday in Mexico, Lawson put together a showing to be proud of - before his session ended with his brakes catching fire.

In 19 laps, Lawson clocked faster times than de Vries and Pietro Fittipaldi, who both already boast Formula One experience.

Putting any disappointment to one side, Lawson's display only reiterates his belief he has what it takes to reach the highest level.

"Honestly, I feel absolutely ready," he told Newshub. "It confirms how I feel.

"It's disappointing not to be going next year, but in a year's time, I'll have another year's experience and I'll be even more prepared for that step.

Liam Lawson.
Liam Lawson. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

"Right now, I feel completely ready for it. It's something that just confirms what I was feeling.

"It doesn't give me a confidence boost or anything - I feel like I already had that confidence going in."

Rather than point the finger, Lawson knows he can earn another Formula One chance through his Formula Two exploits.

The Pukekohe native has three Formula Two race wins under his belt this season, with five more podium appearances.

While his exact 2023 plans are still to be confirmed, Lawson insists he's not leaving Red Bull to seek opportunities elsewhere.

"It's obviously disappointing, but at the end of the day, I'm not sitting here going, 'wow, that's so unfair, look at the great season I've had'. I haven't had that.

"It is what it is unfortunately. It's more [about] looking at the season, and saying it's disappointing to have all the things that have happened and not be where we really should be, that might have changed the outcome.

"At the same time, I have an exciting year coming up that, hopefully, I'll be able to confirm soon.

"As much as I feel ready now, I'll learn even more in the next 12 months and by the end of next year, I'll be in an even better position.

"Because of the announcement this year and the way things played out, a lot of people are feeling like that dream is over. I'm happy to say that it's not and I've got an exciting year planned."

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

While his Formula Two performances are an improvement on his 2021 rookie season, already scoring more points second time round, Lawson laments his current standing.

The Kiwi is seventh in the championship after 26 races, with two more to come at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Despite clear ability in the shorter sprint races, where his three wins have all come, inconsistency and car unreliability in the longer feature races have ultimately cost him. 

"Just potentially completely missed, completely," he says of his season. "It's just been one of those seasons.

"Going into the last weekend, we're not where we want to be, but there's no reason we can't finish on a high and have a strong last weekend.

"Unfortunately, the way the system's changed this year with points, the sprint race is [worth] very little points, the feature race is [worth] the majority of the points.

"All of our issues have been in feature races. We've had a clean run of sprint races and then just every feature race mostly has been pretty difficult.

"It's just disappointing. F2 in general this year has been pretty hectic with where people are at.

"There's a lot of guys that are not where they should be in the championship this year, because of the way things have played out with issues."

While the championship and second place have been sewn up, Lawson could still finish third overall, if results go his way at Yas Marina, but by his own admission, he has loftier goals than just completing the podium.

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

"It would be nice to finish third and finish the season like that, but we didn't go into the season aiming to finish third.

"At the end of the day, the pressure of the championship is gone and it's not something I'll be thinking about - I want to finish on a high.

"I'm more driven to finish having two great races, rather than finishing in a certain position in the championship. I'd just like to have a nice strong finish."