The 2023 United States Grand Prix weekend had initially seen us sit just outside the points in both the Sprint and the Grand Prix.
A late charge from Alex Albon on Saturday saw him come just three tenths shy of a top-8 finish, whilst tyre preservation on Sunday led to a P11 finish – later upgraded to P9, of course!
For Logan Sargeant, try as he might, he just couldn’t find a way past the Haas of Kevin Magnussen on Saturday, but he put it right on Sunday as he made several moves to finish P12 at the flag at his second home race.
After the Chequered Flag is when our drivers get their first opportunity to speak clearly to the team about what has just unfolded, and in this week’s Radio Replay, we compare our finish line comms from Saturday to Sunday.
PIT: “Chequered flag… ah, the gap was 5.3s at the line, sorry mate. We nearly had him!”
JAMES: “That’s a strong race, Alex. It bodes well for tomorrow.”
ALEX: “Yeah, a bit frustrating but well done everyone.”
Grand Prix Chequered Flag:
PIT: “Chequered flag, so P11.”
ALEX: “My opinion, we boxed too early on the first stint. I was surprised how bad the Hard was, but I think everyone was bad on the Hards, no?”
PIT: “Our pace was pretty good on the Hards, but we’ll take a look after the race. It was a good job from your side.”
ALEX: “Our pace was relatively good or actually good on the Hards?”
PIT: “So on that hard, pace was a bit worse than yesterday but compared to others, it was competitive. We’ll review it all and see what we can improve for next time.”
It’s important to remember that, at the time, nobody had any inclination about the disqualifications that were going to come the way of two of the top 10.
As it happened live, Alex had finished just outside the points in both situations, but his immediate reactions were completely different.
On Saturday, a late push in the Sprint saw him fight hard to get within the five-second penalty window of George Russell just two cars ahead of him, and he nearly achieved it.
On Sunday, you can see that Alex was quick to offer feedback to the team. He knows, as we all do, how tight the championship battle is right now, and by finishing an initial P11 you could see what missing out on points meant to him.
As we all do, he wants the best for this team and looks to extract everything out of his FW45. His solid efforts were eventually rewarded with an upgrade to P9.
PIT: “OK, Chequered Flag. Pick up rubber, please.”
JAMES: “Logan, all good learning for tomorrow, let’s build on that.”
PIT: “Just some feedback on the race. Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc at the front. The only car on the Softs, Sainz, held P6 and held Russell for many laps. It [Soft] was not as bad as we could have thought. Alex P9.”
Grand Prix Chequered Flag:
PIT: “OK, Chequered Flag, pick up rubber. P12, Alex in front of you in P11. He has a five-second penalty and is under investigation. That’s a strong race, mate. That’s what we’ve been talking about. Building up the weekend and building up for Sunday. That was a strong Sunday, good job!”
LOGAN: “Thank you, guys. Yesterday was poor, but today was a good day! Thank you, I’ve given you my all.”
JAMES: “Well done, Logan. Good drive.”
LOGAN: “Got a bit unlucky at T1, but way to fight back. Good job, guys! Sorry for the pit stops, really bad positioning by me, sorry.”
PIT: “We learn, we’ll take it. That’s a good one, enjoy.”
As you can see, our drivers almost switched reactions from Saturday to Sunday. Logan didn’t speak to the team on the radio after the Sprint, but this is perfectly common.
It’s easy to forget that these racers are driving 1,000bhp machines, pushing lap after lap. It takes a lot out of them, especially when they are in a multi-lap battle as Logan was in the Sprint.
James Vowles’ message to Logan on Saturday is pertinent. Looking back now, we can clearly see how Logan was able to take his Sprint experience into Sunday’s race.
The Turn 1 incident he refers to is a moment shortly after lights out where he clipped the sausage kerb on the inside of the apex to such an extent that it engaged anti-stall.
He soon shook this off and got straight back into the fight, getting his elbows out to make moves up to P12, which of course became P10 and his first-ever point in F1.
Oh, and if you’re new to our wonderful sport, you might be wondering what the request to pick up rubber actually means.
Well, F1 cars have to meet a minimum weight – 798kg, including the driver.
Teams like to ensure their cars get as close to that limit as possible to maximise performance, and everything from the likes of driver perspiration to damaged parts can affect that.
Asking the drivers to drive over the discarded tyre rubber, also known as marbles, after the race is an easy way to add some weight to the car and gives each of the teams some extra margin to the limit.
If you want to find out what is said during each race as it happens, join us for our exclusive live feed on our app each Grand Prix weekend.
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