Kiwi connection: Payne's ties to F1 debutant Lawson

26 Aug
Kiwi racers continue to take world motorsport by storm
2 mins by James Pavey

Kiwi racers continue to take world motorsport by storm, with New Zealander Liam Lawson set for his Formula One debut — and he has close ties to Matt Payne.

Penrite Racing rookie Payne has made a splash in his maiden Supercars campaign, and is gearing up for his first enduro campaign as a full-time driver.

The 20-year-old wasn’t always destined for tin tops, however, notably winning the 2021 Toyota Racing Series title before shifting to cars.

Payne’s 2021 success came with a familiar voice in his ear — that of Lawson, who will make his F1 racing debut on Sunday night (AEST) at Zandvoort.

Red Bull junior Lawson has been thrust into the F1 limelight after being chosen by Scuderia AlphaTauri to replace injured Aussie Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo broke a bone in his hand after crashing in Friday practice after, ironically, opting to avoid a collision with countryman Oscar Piastri.

Lawson’s chance comes two years after he helped engineer Payne (pictured main) to the 2021 Toyota Racing Series title, which was the latest chapter in their racing history.

The two young Kiwis went to the same country school — Waiau Pa, north west of Pukekohe Park Raceway — and remain close friends.

Payne followed in the footsteps of Lawson, who also won the Toyota open-wheel series, with current F1 stars Lando Norris and Lance Stroll also winning the title.


Payne and Lawson raced against each other New Zealand’s national championship for Rotax Junior karts back in 2015, and in 100cc Junior Yamaha and Cadet karts before that.

Lawson pursued cars, with Payne moving to shifter karts for the next five seasons. Lawson would win the TRS title with M2 Competition in 2019, two years before Payne’s win.

Payne on track in 2023

It came after Lawson won the 2015 SpeedSport scholarship and into Formula First. He then raced in Aussie Formula 4 and, later, the ADAC German Formula 4 championship.

After his TRS title, Payne switched to tin tops and debuted in Carrera Cup, winning in Townsville as a teenage rookie en route to sixth overall.

Payne was picked up by the Groves and pushed towards Supercars, debuting in Super2 at the end of 2021 before challenging for the title in 2022.

It was ultimately seat-warming time ahead of a main game debut in 2023 alongside David Reynolds, with Payne replacing the retired Lee Holdsworth.

Lawson will start 20th for his F1 race debut, in the Dutch Grand Prix, at 11:00pm AEST on Sunday night.

Payne will be joined by French debutant Kevin Estre for the Penrite Oil Sandown 500 (September 15-17) and Repco Bathurst 1000 (October 5-8).

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