Both Carlin drivers tested the limit in Friday’s free practice session, with Lawson and Sargeant spinning off and flat spotting tyres as they explored the quickest way around the Paul Ricard circuit. Despite the eventful session, both drivers felt the pace was there. The weather remained blisteringly hot for qualifying on Friday afternoon with their first flying laps putting Sargeant and Lawson fourth and 13th respectively. Sargeant’s second push lap saw the American take provisional poledespite a mistake in the first sector.
After pitting at the mid-way point for new Pirelli rubber with the rest of the field, the Carlin men were out on track, although not for long as Dennis Hauger stopped on circuit and brought out the red flag. The session resumed with around seven minutes to go and it was Sargeant who made the most of the remaining time to set two push laps, the second of which was enough to take pole by six thousands of a second. Team-mate Lawson qualified ninth.
Saturday’s reverse grid race provided Lawson with all the opportunity he needed for a strong result. The Red Bull Junior lost out slightly at the start, dropping from second to third and briefly fighting with Felipe Drugovich in fourth. Lawson wasn’t about to give up however, he fought back to pass Marcus Armstrong and take second while Sargeant was also fighting hard, pushing Vesti for eighth place.
At the front, Lawson was closing in on leader Jehan Daruvala before a safety car, prompted by a stranded Fittipaldi, condensed the field further and put Lawson right in the mirrors of Daruvala at the restart. Lawson stayed close to the leader, taking the lead with a superb move on lap 17 and pulling away to break the DRS window. Sargeant had his own battle to fight; the Williams Racing Academy Driver was passed by Iwasa, who he had overtaken initially at the start.
Lawson remained perfectly in control at the head of the field, to such an extent that the Rodin-backed driver claimed the fastest lap of the race on the last lap on his way to his second race win of the season. Sargeant came home just out of the points in tenth but later found himself elevated to eighth after multiple post-race penalties for other drivers.
With Sargeant’s pole position and Lawson’s win taking Carlin to the top of the Teams’ standings on Saturday, hopes were high as Sargeant lined up on pole for Sunday’s Feature Race. As the lights went out, Sargeant lost out slightly and dropped back to third, while Lawson had made up a place to eighth. The racing action was neutralised after the safety car was needed to recover the stranded car of Marcus Armstrong.
At the restart, Lawson wasted no time, passing Drugovich to make up yet another position. As the pit window opened, the order changed as drivers began to pit, while Sargeant and Lawson remained on track, now running third and fifth respectively.
Sargeant was the first Carlin driver to pit on lap 12, but on entering the pit box, the Williams Racing Academy driver clearly had a problem as the car immediately stalled. Attempts by the team to help Sargeant pull away failed and the rookie eventually retired with a clutch issue. Lawson pitted a few laps later for his mandatory stop, by now from the lead of the race. The Carlin crew performed the quickest stop of the race to return the Red Bull Junior to the track in sixth place. Despite closing in on those ahead, Lawson had to be satisfied with sixth place to add to his Sprint race win, with Sargeant not finishing the race.
The team won’t have long to wait with the next round of the season this weekend at the Hungaroring. Track action kicks off on Friday.