For 2017 CAMS Australian Formula 4 Championship runner-up Liam Lawson, 2018 was an eye-opening experience as he embarked on a European career.
Competing in the German F4 Championship with Van Amersfoort Racing, Lawson was again runner-up in the hotly competitive category with three race wins and eight podiums.
“Yeah, I am getting sick of coming second. It would be nice to have a win,” Lawson joked.
“It’s a lot different in every possible way. The teams have a lot more budget, their factory facilities are a lot bigger, so it is cool to be a part of but then the racing is a lot more competitive and more aggressive.”
“The guys aren’t afraid of crashing, they just ascend from anywhere and hope for the best most of the time so it was different but I enjoyed it.”
For the 16-year-old New Zealander, living in Europe was another learning curve on top of his motor racing experience. Lawson has now returned to his native New Zealand for the Christmas break, where he’ll also keep race fit with a stint in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series.
“I had to live by myself a lot of the time, so that was certainly a learning for me, like I have never had to look after myself really,” Lawson said.
“It has been a learning curve and definitely an experience, but it is nice to be home now.”
Lawson’s German F4 campaign was a crucial next step as he works toward his Formula 1 dream, though the intensity levels were at first a culture shock compared to his New Zealand and Australian experiences. Speaking after the 2018 Australian Formula 4 awards evening, Lawson admitted he has missed the strong camaraderie between all of the drivers.
“The way all the teams and drivers come here to have a big prize giving celebration together at the end of the year shows that everybody gets along,” Lawson said.
“Over there [Europe], you might have manufacturer events but it’s different. It’s not the same family vibe when you get over there.
“It’s a lot more serious, not that isn’t here [in Australia], but not everybody talks to each other, and that’s more of a cultural thing.
“So that’s what I missed about Australian Formula 4, the really close racing and when you get out of the car everyone is really friendly and a big family. It was really cool to see everyone again. Thanks to all you guys for having me again.”
Success returned to Lawson one last time in 2018 with a clean-sweep of victories at the 2018 Asian Formula 3 finale at Sepang in Malaysia, which he hopes will be a good ramp up for a possible Formula 3 stint in Europe.
“I have been doing some F3 testing recently, which has been really cool, so I’m hoping to slip into some sort of F3 next year,” Lawson said.
“With the new categories coming out it’s a bit of a waiting game to see what the right one will be, so hopefully at the moment I can say F3 but not sure at the moment.”