Alex Albon has matched his best Qualifying result of the season, piloting his upgraded FW44 to P12 on the grid for Saturday’s F1 Sprint whilst Nicholas Latifi, running the original spec, will start from P19.
Our Thai driver was on the front foot right from the very start of the session, with Alex sitting P8 after his first run, with some cars still to set a time.
Track limits are always a talking point around this short circuit, and Nicky was just one of many who pushed too hard, resulting in his first lap time being deleted.
Alex was next to feel the wrath of the stewards' delete button – he ran slightly over the white line at T9 and saw his time, which was good enough for P8, removed.
It would go to one last push in Q1 and the No23 banged in a 1:06.519 to secure his passage through to the next stage, whilst his teammate's 1:07.003 was sadly only good enough for P19.
Into Q2 and Alex’s banker lap on his first run was strong enough for P10, however, the second stage would remain uninterrupted.
Alex had one final opportunity to find time and he would improve, recording a 1:06.230 to lock in P12, just a tenth shy of the top 10 shootout.
Just under three hours after Qualifying had been completed, Sergio Perez had his Q2 lap time deleted, as well as all his Q3 lap times. This drops him to P13 on the grid, promoting Alex up to P11.
Our Qualifying results ahead of the second F1 Sprint of the season
“I’m very happy,” beamed the 26-year-old, continuing: “Firstly, the team did a great job to get everything ready after the damage from Silverstone; they worked flat out at the factory and here at the circuit, so to repay them with a P12 is great.
“We have obviously brought an upgrade and it’s nice to see the performance increase because of it and I hope we can progress forward each weekend.
“We were only a tenth away from Q3 - it’s almost frustrating as you can always think of places you could have improved - but I’m very happy. I think it’s all to play for tomorrow.”
Nicky also had room for some optimism this evening, saying: “Even though the position and lap time were not good enough, I still felt good behind the wheel carrying over what I felt in Silverstone.
“I made a mistake in Turn 3 but with that, my lap time and how much the upgrade should give, I should be quite a bit slower than the other car.
“I think I’m actually right where I need to be, so for me, that’s two strong Qualifying sessions in a row which is nice.
“Honestly, I’m happy with that because I know what the gap should be and where we need to be.
“The car is still struggling around here but I’m happy that I’ve found a little bit more driveability.
“I am more optimistic going into the Sprint despite the lack of pace. Hopefully, there will be some opportunities tomorrow.”
2022 Driver Caps
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Like Alex, Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson was keen to praise the hard work of everyone back at Grove when we caught up with him post-Quali.
“We always enjoy the challenge of a Sprint Event Friday and today was no exception,” Dave stated, adding: “FP1 was a bit disrupted and we also had to focus on race preparation, so we didn’t learn a huge amount more about the new parts that we introduced on Alex’s car in Silverstone.
“However, the driver comments continue to be positive and although we know there is more to do to understand - and optimise - the new package, we are confident that we have taken a step forward since Canada.
“Qualifying is often tricky at the Red Bull Ring with 20 cars fighting for position on a track that is barely 4km long. Fortunately, Q1 was fairly smooth with both drivers having mostly clear laps and three good opportunities to set a lap time.
“Alex was able to make the most of the opportunity and the new parts and made it to Q2, finishing in 12th place. He again drove very well and pushed hard on his new tyres at the end of Q2.
“Nicholas’s car is heavier than Alex’s this weekend and he is obviously still driving with the Canada car specification, but despite this he drove well again, building on his impressive display in the wet last weekend.
“His team worked very hard to get everything out of his car today and although they succeeded in that regard, they are looking forward to getting their hands on the new package in France.
“Thanks to all the hard work and dedication of the team back in Grove, all of whom worked tirelessly to ensure that we had enough parts available in Austria, we have had an enjoyable day today.
“However, there are still two days left to go and plenty of opportunities to make and lose places; although the cars are now in Parc Ferme, we still have a lot of work to do if we are to maximise our chances in the Sprint race and the Grand Prix.”
In the junior categories, Logan Sargeant continued his rich vein of form by qualifying P3 for Sunday’s Formula 2 feature race, whilst in Formula 3, Zak O’Sullivan was hit whilst exiting the pit lane before securing a P15 grid spot.
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