Jüri Vips and Liam Lawson take part in F1 test in Abu Dhabi
A dream became reality as Liam Lawson got his first official track time with AlphaTauri F1 team. The Red Bull Junior driver from New Zealand slipped into the cockpit of the AT02 for the Rookie Test at Abu Dhabi on 14 December at Yas Marina Circuit. Fellow 2021 FIA Formula 2 driver Juri Vips got behind the wheel of the Red Bull F1 car during the test, alongside Formula One World Champion Max Verstappen.
It wasn’t the first time 19 year-old Lawson has driven a Formula 1 car. He scored a publicity drive in AlphaTauri’s sister Red Bull F1 car at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. However, the test was his first official track time. Drawing on skills honed during his F2 season, the Kiwi was able to adjust to the speed of the car well and ranked second fastest during F1’s Young Driver test following the season finale Abu Dhabi GP. Lawson’s best lap time: 1:24.517 – Position: 2 – Laps: 125 (660.125km).
Jüri Vips said it was a privilege to drive the car that took Max Verstappen to his maiden World Championship, with the Estonian driving the RB16B in the Young Driver Test at the Yas Marina Circuit. Vips took to the track for ninety-six laps of the circuit in Abu Dhabi, with the twenty-one-year-old admitting it took some time to adapt to the speed and downforce levels of the Formula 1 machine.
Vips 6th fastest overall
Vips set the sixth fastest time overall, and he thanked Red Bull for giving him the opportunity to test as he worked on ensuring the correlation between track and simulator was on par. “I have been looking forward to this test for a while now, it is such a privilege to drive a Formula 1 car, even more so a Championship-winning one,” said Vips. “It took my brain some time to get used to the speed of the RB16B because the pace is just crazy but then it is like any other car and you just get used to it and do your job.“I had a small moment in the afternoon but fortunately everything was okay and I was back in the car soon after. I am super fortunate, first to be working with Red Bull Racing Honda but secondly to get the opportunity to drive this car.”
Lawson commented on his first taste on track with AlphaTauri
“What an amazing day, it’s incredible how unbelievably fast these cars are. I’ve obviously driven in the simulator before and when I’m there I always think that there’s no way that the car can actually be that quick in real life, but it really is. I want to say a huge thank you to Red Bull, Dr Marko and everyone that has made it possible to be here driving for Scuderia AlphaTauri today. This has been something that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid so it’s just incredible and I’m really, really happy.” Lawson said. It took me a little while to get to full throttle but when I did I thought ‘holy moly that’s a lot of power!’ The biggest difference is just the downforce, there’s significantly more than anything I’m used to.”