REPORT: A busy Saturday in Shanghai

Published on
20 Apr 2024
Est. reading time
3 Min

Improvements show there are chances in China

The first Saturday to feature an F1 Sprint race and Grand Prix Qualifying ended with signs of progress for Williams Racing.
After both our drivers advanced through the order in Sprint, Alex reached another Q2, finishing P14 in Qualifying.
A spin for Logan hindered his chance to reach the second part of Quali and he ended the session in P20, but our American enjoyed some overtaking action during the morning’s Sprint race.
Wheel-to-wheel battling throughout the order made for a breathless opening lap as China watched racing for the first time in five years.
Alex initially fell back to P19 but ended the 19-lap Sprint further up the order after executing a smart pass on Nico Hülkenberg into Turn 1.
The Haas driver fell victim to Logan, too, with our American carrying the inside line at the ever-tightening opening corner as both FW46s enjoyed some overtaking.
A late retirement for Fernando Alonso had Albono and Sarge gain a position apiece to finish P17 and P19, respectively.
Q1 continued the 2024 trend of fine margins, and a single second covered all the drivers who set a lap in the closing minutes, but Logan had to abandon his final run with flat-spotted tyres.
After slightly improving on his second Q2 attempt after a red flag stoppage, Alex ended Qualifying with a P14 effort, showing encouraging improvements from our Friday efforts.
Chinese GP Qualifying
Chinese GP Qualifying
With three of the weekend’s four competitive sessions complete, Alex said:
"It’s been a tricky weekend so far, so 14th was probably the best we could do today.
"Our car struggles with the long corners at this track, and the mix of high and low-speed corners makes set-up difficult.
"low-speedWe had to prioritise low speed corners, compromising stability in high speeds. The wind also affected the balance and made the car feel quite disconnected.
"Today has clarified what we need to work on going forward, and the team can be proud of the changes we’ve made ahead of the session.
"I’m optimistic as we’ve got a good tyre allocation for the race, and winds should be lower. We can definitely fight from here tomorrow."
Sprint let Logan get a first taste of racing laps in China, and our No2 detailed his Chinese Saturday by saying:
"Qualifying was frustrating as it was a good lap until the spin. The car was on edge in the high speed this afternoon, especially over the bumps and changes in tarmac.
"Nonetheless, it could’ve been a much better session. We used the Sprint as a chance to get a good long run under our belts and from that made some minor changes ahead of Qualifying based on what we felt and what we want for tomorrow.
"So, we need to see how that plays out in the race. Realistically it’s not going to be easy, but we’ll give it our best go and see where that leaves us."
After only one Free Practice session to refamiliarise ourselves with the Shanghai International Circuit, Dave Robson, our Head of Vehicle Performance, had many more learnings from Sprint and Qualifying:
"We used today’s Sprint race to understand the tyre behaviour over a race stint and were able to use this experience to make some setup changes to the cars ahead of the Qualifying session.
"The setup changes, and the move to the Soft tyre compound, helped our performance in Qualifying.
"Both drivers showed decent pace in Q1, and it was a shame that Logan had a spin on his final lap in Q1.
"Alex was able to get through Q1 and qualify in P14, which is a fair result for where the FW46 currently is.
"Hopefully, the setup changes will improve our race pace too and we can then race the cars starting ahead of us."
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