Liam Lawson has further cemented his claim to a full-time Formula 1 drive by making history as just the sixth New Zealander to score points in motorsport’s elite discipline.
Lawson rose to the occasion at the Singapore Grand Prix in just his third start, becoming the first maiden point scorer on the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
While several of those ahead succumbed to the unforgiving nature of the circuit, he would hold firm to come home ninth for the first points of the many that appear set to follow.
“Mate, I gave that everything, there’s nothing left.” he said on the radio as he crossed the line.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was the man who ended Red Bull’s winning streak, becoming just the third victor this season in thrilling circumstances. With two laps remaining the front four were separated by less than two seconds, with Sainz and Lando Norris caught by a charging George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
Both Mercedes drivers had stopped for fresh tyres under a late Virtual Safety Car before overturning an 18 second deficit to the leaders, who had remained out, but ran out of time to get a move done.
A misjudged entry into Turn 10 on the final lap would cost Russell, who crashed out from a podium position and failed to make the finish. Hamilton was the benefactor, crossing the line third, behind Norris.
Ferrari had control of the race from the outset, with Sainz taking the lead into Turn 1 and Charles Leclerc jumping into second, ahead of Russell.
Hamilton was left with nowhere to go at Turn 1’s entry and cut the corner, emerging ahead of his teammate and Norris. He would return the positions over the laps that followed.
Lawson, meanwhile, was pipped off the line by a fast-starting Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly but kept the racing line through the opening corners to steer clear of any Lap 1 drama.
“On my side, I need to sort these starts because that was two weekends in a row where I’ve lost two spots off the line and it’s just making our life more difficult,” he said on the Sky Sports UK broadcast following the race.
“It’s two spots, and around here you can’t overtake so it’s crucial. We did the hard work around here yesterday and put ourselves in Q3 so to lose two spots off the line is tricky.
His teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, was not so lucky on Lap 1, coming into contact with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and parking up in Turn 14’s escape road with tyre damage.
A rhythm was quick to establish as the field all managed their pace in the heat, with Lawson remaining on the rear of Gasly and keeping Oscar Piastri at bay behind.
The opening 19 laps went without incident, bar Tsunoda’s retirement, and a mundane race threatened with large DRS trains highlighting the overtaking difficulties on the circuit.
It took a Lap 19 crash from Logan Sargeant to bring the Grand Prix to life, with the field boxing under caution as debris was removed from the track.
Leclerc was the biggest loser in the lane despite backing the field up to allow for a double-stack at Ferrari, losing several places when the team were forced to hold him for release into a gap in traffic.This saw Russell and Norris pass him in the lane.
Verstappen remained out under the Safety Car in an attempt to bridge the gap to the leaders following his poor qualifying showing, slotting into second behind Sainz who retained the lead, having stopped.
Lawson lost out to Piastri in the lane, but jumped Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg to emerge 14th but with three cars in the train ahead having not boxed.
Sainz, on fresh tyres, pulled clear of Verstappen immediately off the Lap 23 restart, with both Red Bull’s quickly swallowed up by those who had stopped.
Lawson would also work past Bottas to take 13th on Lap 24, the Alfa Romeo also running on older rubber.
At the race’s mid-point Sainz, Russell, Norris and Hamilton made up the top four.
Lawson moved back to 12th on Lap 36 when Kevin Magnussen ran wide at Turn 7.
Perez and Verstappen would eventually come in for their first stops on laps 39 and 40, respectively, their tyre drop off having seen them fall well out of contention. When they did, Lawson moved to 10th to sit in the points with 22 laps remaining.
He would gain yet another place on Lap 43 when Esteban Ocon was forced to pull over at Turn 2 with suspected gear box issues.
This triggered a Virtual Safety Car, which saw Russell and Hamilton stop for a flawless double-stack at Mercedes, sacrificing track position over Leclerc and Norris for fresh tyres.
Alonso also came in for a change, but had to serve a five-second penalty having run over the pit entry kerb on his previous stop. Aston Martin ran into problems once that was served, resulting in Alonso losing significant time and dropping down the field.
Alonso’s error and misfortunes saw Lawson jump to eighth.
With 16 laps remaining, Sainz led Norris and Leclerc as Mercedes were left to overturn a 14 second deficit to return to the podium places. They would do so with ease, with Russell and Hamilton moving to third and fourth over Leclerc just seven laps after stopping .
Further back, meanwhile, Verstappen had worked his way back into the top ten and was on the rear of Lawson. The Kiwi held his line and made the World Champion work for the pass, but ultimately wasn’t a match on much older tyres and dropped to ninth.
Alex Albon and Perez, who were also on new rubber, quickly made ground on Lawson over the following laps, jumping onto his tail with eight laps remaining.
The Kiwi did well to keep Albon at bay for several circuits, and would benefit as Perez stuck his nose up the inside of the Williams with 5 laps to run, sending Albon off as a result.
The second Red Bull passed Lawson not long after, however at this stage a points finish seemed secure with Kevin Magnussen over 12 seconds behind in 11th.
Sainz, Norris, Russell and Hamilton locked in a four-car battle for the win over the final stages, with a small error costing Russell in big ways on the final lap when his right rear clipped the wall entering Turn 10, sending the Mercedes straight and into the barriers.
With the Mercedes out, Lawson would gain a further position on the final lap to come home for two points, only one less than Tsunoda has managed across the entire season.
“I’m pretty tired, right now,” Lawson said. “The race was long, it was hot. We maximised but we didn’tt quite have the speed for the guys in front so that was a bit tricky.
“For the rest of the race I gave it everything.
“I’ve been beating the drum since before driving in F1 to try and get this shot, and now I have this opportunity I’m just trying to maximise it.
“I speak to Dr Marko and Red Bull after each race, and I’m sure I will after this one, but to be honest I’m just on maximizing this while I have this very short window.
“I’m just trying to get to the end of it and when I look back know I’ve done everything I could.
It’s believed Lawson will return for AlphaTauri at next week’s Japanese Grand Prix while Daniel Ricciardo continues to recover from a broken hand.
Header Image: Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool