Alex Albon secured our best qualifying result of the season with a time good enough for P9, which will see him promoted up to P6 once penalties are applied.
Nicholas Latifi was knocked out in Q1, however, the Canadian will start in P11 after qualifying in P17.
It was a solid Saturday showing for the team in Spa-Francorchamps, with a P13 and P14 for Nicky and Alex respectively in FP3, teasing what was potentially on the cards later in the afternoon.
A small mistake at T1 on our No6’s final run in Q1 meant he was unfortunate not to progress, whereas Alex delivered a lap good enough for P6 to see him through to the next stage.
The Thai racer would find himself on the cusp of the top 10 after his first lap in Q2 before breaking into the shootout by a tenth of a second on his final lap.
In Q3 for the first time in 2022, Alex opted to go out early on both his runs to avoid any potential traffic and, as a result, got two clean laps in – the latter of which was a 1:45.837 to place him P9 before penalties elevate him to P6 tomorrow.
Nicky will rise to P11 whilst Alex will start from P6
Beaming after a positive day at the office, Albono said: “It felt really good out there.
“We’ve been quietly confident all weekend; we were looking for Q2, so Q3 is a bit unexpected but we’re very happy – this is a great result for us.
“The car was feeling strong, we’re still learning our package and we made some changes from FP3 which helped the car for qualifying.
“We know our car likes low downforce and, when track conditions are in a place that suits us, we can extract a good lap time out of the car. We were P9 on pure pace.
“Everyone seemed to have clear runs today and we were only a couple of tenths behind Mercedes, so it shows that in certain situations we can really maximise what we have.
“With the penalties we are starting sixth and so we have to try to hold on and maybe even overtake at the start.
“We’ve got a car that, on paper, should be hard to overtake as we are quick on the straights, but it's also not a track like Monaco where it’s easy to keep people behind, so it’ll be elbows out tomorrow.”
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Although disappointed not to be higher up the grid on paper today, Nicky is aware there’s a chance to make headway tomorrow, sharing: “I felt like we were making progress through FP3 and things were feeling much better.
“Despite the result, I feel the car had the potential to reach Q2, so it's disappointing from my side and for the team.
“Unfortunately, the last lap was the worst lap of the weekend for me. I got caught out by the unpredictability of the car and tyres.
“There were a lot of big mistakes on the lap, so it ended up being scrappy. It's frustrating to not put it on the board in the session that mattered.
“We'll be starting a bit higher up the grid with a number of cars taking penalties so it could create some opportunities.”
Dave Robson rounded off the reaction with some insight from the Pit Wall.
“We had a decent day today and made some good progress with the car,” said our Head of Vehicle Performance, continuing: “We made some aggressive changes overnight and these were a little bit too far in FP3, which led us to lose some of the pace we showed yesterday.
“However, some good engineering ahead of qualifying allowed us to find a good balance in qualifying.
“The tyres were tricky today in the cool conditions and we had to adapt our approach a little ahead of the delayed qualifying session, but this worked reasonably well, and we were able to get both cars into a decent window.
“Nicky lost some time at T1 of his final lap in Q1 but otherwise completed a good lap and was unfortunate not to progress to Q2.
“Alex did a very good job to progress to Q3 and once there we opted to lead the pack and use the free air. He left nothing on the table and it was right to go for a full attack lap.
“Both cars will inherit some grid positions once the penalties are applied and whilst this will help the race start, it does mean that we will need to play a fairly defensive strategy tomorrow.”
It was a difficult day for the Williams Driver Academy after a Lap 1 collision in the F3 Sprint caused Zak O’Sullivan, who had started on reverse grid pole, to tumble down the order with damage, eventually recovering to P21.
The F2 Sprint concluded the day's action but Logan Sargeant’s afternoon was cut short after a crash at Pouhon that thankfully saw our young American walk away unscathed.
Roy Nissany used the subsequent Safety Car period to pit for fresh tyres before crossing the line in P11.
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