Liam Lawson did not believe his first Formula 1 points finish was possible until late in the Singapore Grand Prix.
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The AlphaTauri driver finished ninth at Marina Bay Street Circuit, scoring his team's best result of the season to date in only his third start for them.
Lawson finished one place higher than he started and ran as high as eighth at one state. However with Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez closing, Lawson was unsure whether he would be able to hold onto his points finish.
He told media including RaceFans he reckoned a top 10 finish was on with "20 laps to go, before Max and the Red Bulls were coming back."
"At that point I thought we had a chance, then I felt like it was slipping away again," Lawson admitted.
His hopes rose with four laps remaining when two drivers running behind him, Perez and Alexander Albon , collided at turn 13. That caused the Williams driver to drop from 10th-place.
"I guess when Checo and Albon had their fight and Albon went back, that was when I felt a bit more comfortable like we could at least score P10," said Lawson.
Although Perez overtook Lawson for ninth in the closing laps, the rookie moved back up a position again when George Russell crashed from third place on the final tour.
"It was a bonus," said Lawson, "I mean, not a bonus to see somebody crash out, for George, but for us obviously it means we get an extra point."
He pulled off the result despite enduring another poor start, dropping two places to 12th on the opening lap. "For me, the starts I need to get on top of because it's now two weekends in a row that I've botched the start and lost a couple of positions," he admitted.
"So, it's just making our life more difficult. That's really the biggest loss of the race and that's on my part.
"For the rest, I think we extracted everything out of the car. We didn't quite have the race pace to be honest. We kind of felt going into the race it was going to be a little bit difficult, so I think we maximised."
AlphaTauri have said Lawson will remain in the car until Daniel Ricciardo returns from injury. Lawson said he is "just trying to make the most of this opportunity, this window I have" in the meantime ahead of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.
"I'm trying to maximise every race, every session and finish as high as we can," he said. "So today that was points which is great, we'll try and do even more hopefully in the future if I get the chance to drive again."
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2023 Singapore Grand Prix
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- Lawson feared he'd lose first points finish as Red Bull pair caught him
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- Carlos Sainz details Ferrari aim behind the scenes that will worry Mercedes and Red Bull
- Red Bull decide against team orders but Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen made to apologise to team after crash
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- DeMar DeRozan Puts Up A Fight, But Bulls Lose To Ja Morant, Grizzlies
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