Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi’s speed qualified P17 and P20 for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but their performance in the rain shows there’s plenty to play for in Sunday’s race after a day of mixed results.
Nicky topped the timesheet in FP3 with an impressive lap 0.661s faster than anyone else, with Alex making it a 1-3 for Williams after his late-session effort in the inclement conditions.
Both drivers continued their quick running in a surprisingly dry Qualifying as both FW44s were fastest in the speed traps in Sector 1 and Sector 2, and Nicky set the fastest Sector 1 time.
However, a mistake in the final corner had Nicky lose time on his final Q1 run that would’ve seen him easily through to Q2, and Alex missed out on Q2 by just 0.051s, highlighting F1’s fine margins.
After the session, Albono was feeling positive, saying, “I was really happy with my qualifying lap,” before going on to note where he felt improvements might be found.
“It was tricky going from the wet FP3 to a dry qualifying, the wind changed and we were missing a little bit of downforce.
“We’re very fast down the straights, but that is not the most helpful round this track.
“But we’ll do a rain dance ahead of tomorrow and we’ll see what we can do strategy wise.”
Nicky saw the positives from the day, especially in Free Practice: “After a positive FP3 in the wet, we had to reset the expectations for Qualifying with it being dry.”
Like Alex, our No6 also noted the wind’s role in affecting the final Qualifying times: “I was looking to be on the cusp of Q2, but I missed the last corner quite bad. It’s frustrating to make a mistake in the final corner with snap of oversteer on entry after a big tailwind.
“I was surprised to hear I had a purple sector one. However, we’re still missing downforce from the package, so we know where we need to improve.
“It’s difficult to overtake here but we’ll be looking to capitalise on any opportunities that may come in the race tomorrow.”
Our Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson summed up our Saturday in Hungary, saying: “Today was mixed in many senses,” before going on to compliment the drivers on their performances in the rain:
“The wet conditions for FP3 were not unexpected and with the rain potentially lasting into Qualifying, we opted to run on both the full wet and the intermediate tyres in FP3.
“Both drivers were happy with their cars and were able to complete good, unhindered runs. We obviously showed good pace in the wet, which was encouraging and enjoyable.
”However, with Qualifying ultimately taking place in dry conditions, we knew that we would struggle more.”
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Although neither car made it out of Q1 this time, it was close for Nicky and Alex, and Dave could see that Q2 was possible for either:
“Again, both drivers had good clean runs in qualifying and perfect laps from either would’ve seen them into Q2. However, with the wind picking up, getting that perfect lap was difficult.
“Both drivers came close to perfect, but both struggled in the final long corners. It was a shame to miss out having done so many good things today, but that is how tight it is at the moment.
“There could be further rain tomorrow and as we have seen here many times before, a lot can happen in the race; we’ll be ready to take any opportunity that we get.”
Elsewhere, in W Series, Jamie Chadwick fought back from a P5 starting position to take P2 in the race and maintain her podium-finishing streak, as well as extending her championship lead to 75 points.
Sadly, there wasn’t much success for our other Academy drivers in action at the Hungaroring. Broken front wings for Logan Sargeant and Roy Nissany in F2’s Sprint Race had Logan retire and Roy finish P19, while Zak O’Sullivan missed out on points with a P18 in F3.
Back on home soil, Ollie Gray grabbed a P3 finish in Race 1 at Knockhill to stay in the British F4 championship hunt.
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