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Lawson not thinking about F1 rumours after latest Super Formula win

Red Bull junior Liam Lawson insists his full focus remains on closing out the Super Formula title amid speculation over the future of Nyck de Vries at the AlphaTauri Formula 1 team.

Liam Lawson, TEAM MUGEN

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Lawson scored his second win in the Japanese single-seater series in four starts in Sunday’s race at Autopolis, vaulting himself into the championship lead.

The Team Mugen driver now has four points in hand over Ritomo Miyata with five races to go after hanging on with older tyres following a late safety car restart.

Lawson’s latest victory comes at a time that de Vries is coming under increasing pressure over his tough start to his rookie season in F1, with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko thought to be keen to see an upturn in form from the Dutchman in the next three races.

Despite being touted as a possible replacement should Red Bull opt to dispense with de Vries, Lawson insists that his main objective is to claim the Super Formula title and put himself in a strong position to land a seat with AlphaTauri in 2024.

Asked by Autosport about the significance of the timing of his win at Autopolis, Lawson replied: “It’s good timing in the sense it puts me in the lead of the championship, and that’s what I am thinking about at the moment. 

“I want to finish the year and fight for the championship, and that will give me the best opportunity for next year. 

“In terms of what’s happening [in F1]... it’s completely outside of my control. I am just happy to win today.”

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri AT04

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri AT04

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Lawson came through to take the victory ahead of TOM’S driver Miyata and polesitter Sho Tsuboi despite dropping from second on the grid to third after a tough start.

The Kiwi driver was among the first drivers to pit on lap 13 of 41, while both Miyata and Tsuboi opted to extend their first stints.

But when Tsuboi pitted on lap 25, he rejoined behind Lawson, who then had to fend off both Tsuboi and Miyata on fresher tyres for the final laps after a safety car was called following a collision between Toshiki Oyu and Sena Sakaguchi.

“We knew we had a fast race car but we needed clean air. We boxed early and caught traffic, so I had to try and pass as quickly as I could without losing time, because I knew these two [Miyata, Tsuboi] would go longer in the race,” he recalled.

“We took the lead, just, and I knew it would be a difficult end to the race on old tyres, but the car was very good and we just held on to the end.”

Asked if he was worried about being on older tyres for the end of the race, Lawson said: “I was initially. But when I pitted, I realised the tyre was really good initially, it’s a couple of seconds a lap faster, but the peak goes away quickly and the tyre overheats. 

“Then there’s not a huge difference, and at this track it’s very hard to overtake. I knew when Tsuboi came out behind me that I had to defend hard for three or four laps, and then it would settle. 

“Then the safety car came out and I thought it would be more difficult, but at the end of the race the consistency was there.”

Liam Lawson, TEAM MUGEN

Liam Lawson, TEAM MUGEN

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

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