Liam Lawson At Suzuka

Giltrap Group sponsored driver, Liam Lawson has made his testing debut in Japan’s top tier Super Formula series at Suzuka.

Dec 8, 2022

Lawson seems set to split 2023 between Japan and Europe

With the young Kiwi all but “officially” confirmed as a starter in Japan’s 2023 Super Formula series, Liam Lawson has made a Super Formula debut in the opening day of post-season testing on Wednesday, driving the Honda-powered Team Mugen car. The participation in Super Formula is another strong step toward a Formula 1 drive in 2024.

The 20-year-old recorded the fastest rookie times during the test on a circuit he’s never raced before to conclude the afternoon session ninth-fastest and 10th overall, within one second of the pace set by Naoki Yamamoto.

A big step forward from F2, Lawson says performance of the Dallara SF19 he is expected to race next year is more akin to the Red Bull F1 car he’s been testing and practicing in through the 2022 season.

"Comparing the car [with F2], the Super Formula car is very sharp, especially in the high-speed sections. As soon as you turn, it’s very responsive, zero delay. The way the power comes in is different. It’s a bit smoother in this car, and I would say nicer, a better feeling with the way the power comes in.”

”It feels a lot like driving a Formula 1 car. But it’s been a good day, I learnt a lot with the car, and it’s been good to get a feeling for different set-ups.”

"And the [Yokohama] tyres are obviously very different to the Pirellis I’ve been driving for the last four, five years. It’s my first time in a long time to drive a different tyre and it’s taken a while to get used to, but the tyre feels nice with how reliable it is, and the warm-up.”

"It’s my first time in Japan, my first time in Suzuka, and so far I’m really enjoying it," said Lawson. "It’s a place I’ve wanted to drive for a long time, since I was a kid. It was a really cool experience to finally drive here.

"Through sector one, the Esses, there’s basically no braking and you’re just carrying lots of speed, like 200km/h plus, with lots of G-force. My neck is definitely very sore right now!

"This is probably the best thing about Suzuka, and the Super Formula car is very good in high-speed corners, so when you put those things together it makes it really exciting to drive."

Lawson admits he’s not paid too much attention to time sheets on the first day in the car and instead just focussing on familiarising himself with the car.

"For tomorrow I’ll get more comfortable in the car, and then I can start looking more at how I compare to other drivers."

Lawson says 2023 plans are yet to be confirmed, but it would appear likely the Kiwi will be splitting time between Japan and Europe next year. Red Bull Junior Team boss Helmut Marko has also been quoted by German publication Auto Motor und Sport saying that Lawson will combine his season racing in Japan with F1 reserve duties next year.

"For me it would be a great opportunity to be here," Lawson added. "I want to be in Formula 1 and this would be a great step to take to achieve that.

"If that’s what were to happen, it would be a great way to spend my year, as well as being involved with Formula 1."