Fine margins in an incredibly tight Qualifying Saturday for the Monaco Grand Prix had Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant take P13 and P16, respectively, for the race around the principality.
A sensational lap from Albono late in Q1 had our Thai racer sitting with the third-fastest time of the first session to reach Q2 for the fifth time in six attempts.
Williams Racing were only 0.059s from two FW45s reaching Q2, with Sarge’s Q1 effort in one of the closest qualifying sessions of the season so far.
The pace from both drivers is an encouraging sign for tomorrow’s race, where pit strategy will play a crucial part in F1’s ‘Jewel in the Crown’ event as we prepare to fight forwards.
With a hanging threat of rain lingering on many forecasts, Alex and Logan are well-placed to take advantage of any unpredictability in tomorrow’s Grand Prix.
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“It was a good day today,” said Alex. “We were on the back foot all weekend but, with this track, we knew it was going to be difficult and the weaknesses in our car were going to be challenging around this circuit.
“We made a lot of changes from FP3 to qualifying and they worked, so that’s always a positive thing.
“These changes made the car much more drivable for Qualifying but we did use three sets of tyres in Q1 to get through.”
The shortest track in F1 made finding the best position on the track tricky, which Alex acknowledged, saying: “I was happy with my lap but I lost too much time in the traffic whilst the tyres warmed up so, despite this, I feel like our car was better than the results today.
“Let’s hope for some rain tomorrow.”
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Even though he couldn’t make it out of Q1 despite being so close, Logan was in good spirits:
“It’s my first time driving an F1 car in Monaco this weekend and I’ve loved every bit of it so far. Every lap on this track keeps you on your toes.
“The build-up has been great; tomorrow is going to be a long day but we’ll make the most of it.
“This afternoon in Qualifying was probably the most relaxed I’ve been this weekend, I’ve been driving well in the Free Practices and I was happy with my qualifying lap; coming from the FP sessions, I didn’t think we would be as close as we were and I felt like I got everything out of it.”
With Alex reaching P3 in the first part of Qualifying, Sarge knows the FW45 can perform in Monte Carlo:
“Alex’s [Q1] lap was pretty impressive, I’ll have to see what he did! We got the car in a good window.
“There were a few bits that could have been better, but it’s tough to accommodate for all the different types of corners here.
“Starting 16th isn’t ideal around here but I want to execute a full, clean weekend, so if I can go out tomorrow and have good race pace then that would be a nice way to round out the weekend and then move on to Barcelona which is a track that I love.”
Williams Racing’s Head of Vehicle Performance, Dave Robson, had no illusions about the unique challenge of a Monaco Saturday, saying, “Qualifying in Monaco is always a difficult session, but we coped with the situation reasonably well.
“Both drivers had solid FP3 sessions and went into Q1 knowing that it would be tight, but aware that a good lap could see them into Q2."
Speaking in more detail about each of our pair, Dave continues:
“Logan did an excellent job but fell agonisingly short of the cut-off. Alex, meanwhile, had some newly found confidence in the car following some setup work after FP3, and was able to comfortably make Q2.
“If we had got everything right with Alex and given him a completely clean outlap, then he could’ve been very close to a place in Q3.
“The race will be tough tomorrow with overtaking still extremely difficult here. However, with both drivers comfortable with their cars then we will be looking to make progress.”
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