Report: Qualifying Complete in 2023

Published on
25 Nov 2023
Est. reading time
3 Min

Focus turns to the race after a tricky Abu Dhabi Saturday

Williams Racing will line up P14 and P20 for the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after Qualifying didn’t go our way around the Yas Marina Circuit.
A mid-session attempt at reaching Q3 saw Alex Albon eventually miss out on the top-10 shootout by under two-tenths in another close-run session that had 0.7s covering all 15 cars.
Meanwhile, a back-row start doesn’t represent Logan Sargeant’s true pace in the sister FW45, with our American driver losing his lap times for track limit violations at Turn 1 in Q1.
There are signs of positivity despite the disappointing result, though, with Sarge’s times good enough to comfortably reach Q2 had he avoided the wide moments around the left-hander.
Track evolution aided our rivals in the second session, too, after we opted to run our No23 away from the traffic before the other 14 cars jostling for position hit the track.
Such fine margins mean it’s all to play for in the race tomorrow, with 58 laps to fight through as we aim to keep our hard-earned P7 in the constructors’ standings.

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A frustrated Alex struggled with his tyres under the Abu Dhabi lights, and shared his thoughts on his Saturday running:
“Our Q2 lap was slower than our Q1 lap, with our tyres just overheating really quickly.
“When the track goes quicker and you go theoretically faster and faster, by Sector 3 you’ve got no tyres left so you’re having to do tyre management during Qualifying, which is not ideal and makes it tricky.
“A bit of a frustrating Qualifying but we’ll have to look to tomorrow.”
Attention now turns to Sunday, and Alex is already thinking about the strategy, saying, “Overheating will be a problem in the race, so I think it’s going to be a toss-up between a one or two stop for most.
“Our long runs seem to be okay, so we’ll do our own race and do the best job we can.”
There was no shying away from a difficult day in Q1 for Logan, who openly took the blame for his lap deletions:
“At the end of the day, it’s my mistake to have two laps deleted due to track limits.
“For sure it’s disappointing but at the same time, I’ve been driving well again this weekend. I feel like I’ve had the pace since the first lap on Friday.
“To have nothing to show from it after Qualifying is a shame. We’ll move on and hopefully try to make up for it tomorrow.”
Despite the disappointment, Sarge ended on a positive note:
“The car felt like we were in a good place yesterday on high fuel, quite consistent and reasonable degradation.
“However, there’s not much data to see the pace of other cars because of the disrupted session yesterday.
“We’ll give it our best shot tomorrow and go for it.”
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The fighting mentality wasn’t just with the drivers, and Dave Robson, our Head of Vehicle Performance, saw the positives from the FW45 and our driving duo, too:
“The car was quite good this evening and a perfect lap in Q2 might have qualified Alex for Q3, however, he couldn’t quite replicate his pace from Q1 and with a congested midfield, he finished 14th, less than 0.1s from 11th.
“Logan had good pace on both runs in Q1 and could’ve made Q2, but two track limit errors cost him that opportunity and leaves him in a difficult place for the Grand Prix.
“Tomorrow is going to be an exciting end to the season, and we have a lot still to do to cement 7th place.”
Haas and AlphaTauri took a driver apiece into Q3, and Dave is aware of the competitive field out there in this year’s season finale:
“AlphaTauri have a strong starting position, but the race will be long and there are a lot of cars with similar pace.
“We have a decent race car this weekend and with a good strategy, we can fight the cars ahead.”
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