Red Bull's Liam Lawson banging on the door of F1 dream

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport.

It has the fastest cars, the best drivers and is increasingly popular thanks to the smash Netflix hit Drive to Survive.

It's a place where decisions are made in split seconds and tens of millions of dollars are on the line for the teams and the drivers.

Banging on the door of F1 is a talented lad from Pukekohe, Liam Lawson.

The 21-year-old is the reserve driver for the top team at Red Bull — its number one driver Max Verstappen is also two-time world champion.

It's illustrious company to keep but Lawson fits right in — determined, talented and hard-working.

"It was always Formula 1 for me. It's the pinnacle of motorsport, of racing."

Dad Jared describes it as an obsession that started when Lawson was six, when he was introduced to motorsport through go-karting.

"We were hooked. And we did that for nigh on eight years, week in, week out."

Competitive even then, Lawson's dad recalls his son's natural abilities shone through.

"There was almost just an innate sort of intuition of where to go. Especially on starts."

Lawson transitioned to cars when he was 12 and left home at 16 to pursue his dream of becoming an F1 driver overseas — never looking back.

"Everybody when I was at school was always like, 'you've gotta have a back-up plan, Liam, what's your back-up plan?' And I've never had a back-up plan."

He lives and breathes the sport 24/7 for the entire year, except for his one-month holiday home to Pukekohe to see family and friends.

On his most recent trip home he brought the suit and helmet he wore last year when he was allowed to drive Verstappen's car in a practice run at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

"I'’s very, very, very cool. Because these opportunities to drive the car are so rare. And I knew I had this one-hour opportunity on track with the rest on the Formula 1 grid."

He impressed both Verstappen and Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner, who praised his performance.

He clocked 350km/h on that outing, the fastest he's ever driven.

So fast, that for Lawson, time feels different.

"It's funny because everything slows down so when you're in a race car, the more you drive — everything becomes more and more subconscious."

To prepare himself mentally Lawson has a performance coach who he speaks to before and after each race, otherwise he prefers to block out any distractions.

"I listen to a lot of music, probably more than any other driver I've seen. I've always got headphones in before a race, even when I'm warming-up and things like that. The only thing I consistently do is I've only ever got in the left side of the car. I won't ever get in from the right."

Single-minded, cool under pressure and with lightning-fast reactions, Lawson's pursuit of his F1 dream — to attain one of the most coveted seats in racing — is within reach.