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Liam Lawson

Lawson concedes to Verstappen envy: 'Nice when you're hated because of that'

Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson feels Max Verstappen is in an enviable position.

Liam Lawson
To news overview © XPBimages

Liam Lawson has conceded to a degree of envy at the position Max Verstappen currently finds himself in.

Red Bull reserve driver Lawson has appreciated the advice he has received from three-time champion Verstappen since making his F1 debut with then-AlphaTauri last season in what proved to be a five-race cameo after Daniel Ricciardo broke a bone in his left hand.

What Lawson feels he has learned from the 26-year-old Dutchman is his relaxed approach to criticism, akin to water off a duck's back.

Verstappen has faced his fair share of comments over time, particularly during his formative years in F1, and again when going head-to-head with Lewis Hamilton for what proved to be a contentious world title triumph in 2021.

Yet Verstappen has won three consecutive titles, is in a comfortable position so far this season in pursuit of claiming a fourth, and has also won 60 grands prix.

Assessing Verstappen's mentality, speaking to TalkSport, Lawson said: "I think Max is pretty clear that he’s not too fussed about what people think.

“I think it would be a pretty cool position to be in to win so much that you’re hated for it.

“It’s something he’s not worried about, I mean he has a huge fan base anyway, outside of the people that don’t like him so much, so he’s got nothing to worry about.”

Lawson reveals softer side to Verstappen

New Zealander Lawson is waiting in the wings to see if he will finally be handed a full-time seat.

With the only vacancy at RB at the moment after the team re-signed Yuki Tsunoda for next year, it appears to be a straight fight between Lawson and Ricciardo to be the Japanese driver's team-mate in 2025.

At least Lawson knows in Verstappen he has someone he can learn from in terms of temperament and approach.

The 22-year-old has revealed a perhaps surprisingly nurturing side to Verstappen that may not be apparent to those on the outside, related to the time before he made his F1 race debut in last year's Dutch GP.

"It was really when I stepped in the car last year," said Lawson, on reflection. "He was there, and the way the driver room works within Red Bull is that it is in this energy station and they are all in the same area.

"Max was right next to my room and before the race in Zandvoort I was, obviously, pretty stressed about going in and he just came into my room and was pretty open and said to remember to enjoy it and that it's a big achievement.

"It's more that sort of stuff and not driving related. It was always more mental stuff.

"He's a very mentally strong driver, probably one of the strongest, if not the strongest. He's not phased about anything. He was pretty good to talk to when I stepped into a high-pressure situation."

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