Lawson takes blame for slow pitstop, losing DTM race lead

Red Bull junior Liam Lawson believes he was to blame for the pitlane error that cost him a potential victory in last weekend's second DTM race at the Lausitzring.

Lawson had moved into the lead on the opening lap with a bold pass on polesitter Philip Ellis through the Turn 2-3 sequence and was several seconds up the road when he hit pit road on lap 8 of 36.

Pitstops have so far been the forte for the AF Corse team that runs the Red Bull operation, playing a vital role in Lawson’s victory in the first race of the DTM’s GT3 era at Monza last month.

But this time, after a relatively tardy stop, Lawson stalled his Ferrari exiting the pitbox, losing several seconds before managing to get going again. 

That meant that he emerged behind Abt Sportsline driver Kelvin van der Linde when he exited the pits, with HRT’s Maximilian Gotz taking advantage of his cold tyres to demote him to third.

He eventually finished the race in second position, aided by technical problems for van der Linde’s Audi.

Lawson said he can’t be certain he would have won the race without the slow pitstop, citing the pace of Gotz’s Mercedes, which finished five seconds up the road, but felt he would have at least emerged from the pits in the lead.

“We boxed a lap later obviously than Kelvin and stick with the overcut and stay at the front,” said Lawson, who is also competing in Formula 2 this season.

“In the box we had a slightly slower stop, slower than normal. Obviously our team is really on it with our pitstops, it’s definitely been one of our main strengths this year. 

“But we had a slight issue and I was obviously sitting there waiting to go, waiting to release the clutch. And just as the car dropped, I thought I released early, and I think that’s why we stalled the car. 

“I think [my teammate] Alex [Albon] had a similar problem so we need to look into it. Maybe we both did the same thing or there’s some other issue. 

“But from my side I think it was my fault, so sorry to the team, because it definitely cost us the lead of the race. I can’t say whether I would have stayed there for the rest of the race or not, but definitely it wasn't ideal for that part.”

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Lawson has outperformed expectations in his maiden season of sportscar racing, with only a collision with the Lamborghini of Esteban Muth in the second Monza race preventing him from scoring a clean sweep of podiums in the opening two rounds of the DTM season.

The Red Bull protege sits second in the championship heading into the third round at Zolder next month, only four points behind the Audi of van der Linde.

Lawson said he can be pleased with his points haul from the Lausitzring, even if a slow pitstop left him second behind Gotz on Sunday.

“It’s been a very positive start to the season,” said the 19-year-old. “Obviously there’s little things to work on, what we had in the pitlane today is one of them. 

“Obviously in Monza with the issue getting spun as well is something we need to fix up on. But it’s been a positive start for sure. Hopefully we can carry this on. 

“I think at the moment with the changes in BoP and things like this it’s going to be very up and down but eventually it will start to even out and we’ll start to see more consistent guys starting to stay at the top, but for now it’s been good.

“Considering the weight we had in the car, [it was] good for the points, and it must be pretty close between myself and Kelvin now. So on that side of things it’s been a good thing for points.”

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