REPORT: So close in Saudi Arabia

Published on
09 Mar 2024
Est. reading time
4 Min

No points, but signs of 2024 progress in Saudi Arabian GP

Williams Racing leave the Jeddah Corniche Circuit without any points but can take heart from two spirited drives by Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, who finished P11 and P14 in the final classification.
An early incident left Alex racing most of the Saudi Arabian GP’s 50 laps with minor damage after Haas’s Kevin Magnussen left no room in a wheel-to-wheel scrap.
Although Albono and Sarge both fought forward, accomplishing multiple overtakes en route to their final positions, that Magnussen contact proved pivotal in the story of our race.
2024’s first Safety Car appearance came on Lap 7 after Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll crashed into the wall, and the resulting slowdown had most drivers, including the Williams Racing duo, take an early pit stop.
Equipped with Pirelli’s hard tyre for the remaining 43 laps after a faultless double-stacked stop by our pit crew, Alex and Logan had to make on-track moves to advance up the order.
That task became much tougher after Magnussen left no room at the Turn 4 entry to collide with Alex, and the stewards promptly handed the Danish racer a 10-second penalty.
Their decision didn’t stop Magnussen from staying ahead, and he led a multi-car DRS train containing both FW46 cars that jostled for positions but couldn’t pass the Haas.
Nonetheless, there are positives as our P11 finish represents our best in Saudi Arabia, and this is the first time we’ve had two Williams Racing cars cross the finish line at Jeddah.
Our 2024 Saudi Arabian result.
Our 2024 Saudi Arabian result.
Alex had to run a damaged FW46 for much of the race and was unfortunate not to score points after a punchy drive:
"It’s frustrating to not be fighting for points today, finishing just outside in P11.
"Haas did a great job with strategy using Kevin to hold up the group, which was very smart.
"Unfortunately, we didn’t have the speed and we were carrying front wing damage as well, so we struggled to progress through the field.
"We had a better race car than we showed today, so now the focus is on improving for Australia."
Logan reflected on his Saudi Arabian Saturday by saying:
"It was a decent race with a good 35 laps; however, we didn’t quite have the pace needed for the last 15 laps.
"I was starting to explore the potential towards the end of the race, but it was a bit too late.
"If I’d have realised the potential earlier, we could have picked more off, but I’ll look through it and see what I can do better.
"With the pace improving throughout the race, I’m confident we can unlock more potential for Australia."
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After some technical teething problems in Bahrain, there were no such problems for Dave Robson, our Head of Vehicle Performance, to tackle in Saudi Arabia. He said:
"Today was one those incredibly frustrating races. Alex had a superb start and was ahead of the Ferrari but got caught in traffic at T1 and, crucially, lost a place to Magnussen.
"Most of the field pitted when the safety car came out and when Alex made a pass on Magnussen shortly after the race start, he was unfairly impeded which Magnussen was penalised for, but it cost us several places and caused damage to the front wing end plate.
"Despite the damage, Alex was able to attack and overtake several cars but was unable to take the final points-scoring position due to the sensible team play made by Haas.
"Logan raced well today and was part of the same pack of cars as Alex for the majority of the race.
"His pace was strong, but he suffered with slightly higher tyre degradation than Alex in the final stint."
Dave could still see the positive direction from our Saudi Saturday, though, and finished by saying:
"Although we are frustrated to have finished just outside of the points, there are positives from today, including the basic race pace of the FW46.
"We have learned a lot over the last couple of weeks in the Middle East and the team can now regroup back in Europe before heading to Australia for the third round of the Championship.
"Melbourne is always one of the highlights of the season and we are looking forward to building on the work done in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia."
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