Radio Replay: Alex’s Sprint charge over the airwaves

Published on
10 Oct 2023
Est. reading time
6 Min

Read how Alex communicated with the team during his fight from P17 to P7 in the Qatar Sprint

The 2023 Qatar Grand Prix was an incredibly tough three days for everyone in the team, not least our drivers, but there was a clear high point for everyone involved with Williams Racing.
When Alex lined up P17 for the fourth F1 Sprint of the season, a maiden points finish in this format looked improbable, but not impossible.
With limited knowledge of the tyres around this venue, the decision on what rubber to start on was going to be key, and so it proved.
Discover how Alex’s Saturday evening panned out across the airwaves as we highlight our key moments via our Radio Replay.


PIT: “OK Alex, so tyres. Cars around you: Stroll, new soft. Then everybody in front and behind up to Hamilton in P12 is on a used medium, with Logan on the soft. Top 11 is a mix of used softs, new mediums… a bit of everything, really.”
ALEX: “Copy.”
The teams will only find out the tyres every driver is starting on just a handful of minutes before lights out. Passing this information across to our racers is key, as different compounds of tyres take longer to get up to the optimal working window than others.

Formation lap

PIT: “Wind strength has dropped another 5k since the lap to grid.”
Up until this point, the strong wind that sweeps across the desert surrounding Lusail had made life incredibly difficult for the drivers. The news that wind speed was now dropping would have been music to the ears of most in the field.

Gulf x Williams Racing

See More

Lap 1

PIT: “Go race when you can… Safety Car! Stay out. Lawson off, Turn 2 in the gravel. Happy to work the tyres where we can.”

Lap 2

PIT: “Safety Car is in this lap, confirm.”
ALEX: “Copy.”

Lap 3

PIT: “That’s another Safety Car. Stay out, stay out. We’re happy on tyres at the moment. Logan off at Turn 9.”

Lap 4

PIT: “Brakes are in a decent window for now. How’s that front left from your side?”
ALEX: “Still opening up. I would be about two turns up from this. A lot of it’s coming from the braking.

Lap 6

PIT: “Safety Car is in this lap. All cars around you are on used medium…. that’s go race.”
It’s safe to say the start of Saturday’s Sprint was pretty hectic, with two full Safety Car periods not allowing for a full racing lap to be completed until Lap 7.
What you’ll see above is just a snippet of the constant communication between Alex and his Race Engineer, James Urwin.
What the sprint race on a Saturday does allow for is learnings to be gathered ahead of the full Grand Prix, and that’s what Alex is sharing above so the trackside team and those back at Grove know how we should be setting up the car for Sunday.
Win a pair of AA23 Classic Marina signed by Alex!
These are now completely sold out, but thanks to Albono, we’ve got one pair to giveaway… and they’re signed!

Lap 11

PIT: “Nine laps to go… Yellow [flag] ahead. Safety Car window is closed… OK, one more, that’s another Safety Car. We’ll stay out, stay on the delta. People on the soft tyre are struggling a bit with high deg, very high deg.”
ALEX: “It’s crazy how, with this wind, the car is so much better.”

Lap 12

PIT: “OK, we’ve got a load of switch changes: Green 9, Position 4. HPP off. And Blue 3, Position 3.”
Some of you reading this might find changing the radio station whilst you drive a tough task. Now imagine doing that several times over, all whilst trying to manage tyre, brake and engine temperatures. Oh, and that car of yours is one of the most powerful in the world!
You might wonder how a driver can tell what they’re doing whilst changing these switches, which are often smaller than the button on your favourite jacket.
The colour referenced by the Race Engineer represents a switch on his steering wheel. When Alex makes a change, his dashboard display will then show that colour so he knows he’s changing the correct switch.
Back to the Sprint and we’re over the halfway stage and there has been plenty of attrition. Alex is running P11 and this is the first time he finds out that more positions are up for grabs, as those who started on the red-walled Pirelli tyres are struggling.
Join us in Austin
The Williams Racing Fan Zone is returning to ATX during United States GP week!

Lap 14

PIT: “OK, Safety Car is in this lap. Bottas [ahead] is on a used medium, Tsunoda [behind] is on a used medium – they’ll be in the same boat as you. You’ve got 10km/h on Bottas. We’re happy to use overtake out of the last corner to cover ourselves, but should be OK.”
ALEX: “How many laps?”
PIT: “As you cross the line, five to go. It’s go race.”
Alex is once again informed of the tyre situation immediately around him and is reminded that he boasts a significant straight-line speed advantage over the Alfa Romeo in front.
The term “go race” references another switch that Alex must hit on his wheel, putting the car into the right setting for the restart.
From now on, you won’t hear Alex speak until the chequered flag. It’s full-focus from our No23 as he charges into the points-paying positions.

Lap 16

PIT: “Nice work!” [Relating to Alex’s move on Bottas]

Lap 17

PIT: “You’ve got half a second per lap on the Alpine ahead of you.”

Lap 18

PIT: “Two laps to go, go mode 9. OK, that’s P9! There’s a few soft tyres ahead of you as well…”

Lap 19

PIT: “You’re good on overtake, starting the last lap. You’ve got overtake out of Turn 10 as well if you need it. Let’s use it all up…”
It’s an intense finish to the Sprint, and Alex manages to pass Bottas, Gasly and Alonso before finding himself in P8 and all over the gearbox of Leclerc.
James’ use of the term ‘overtake’ refers to the energy deployment from the FW45s Energy Recovery System, or ERS.
The ERS harnesses wasted kinetic energy from the brakes plus the wasted heat energy from the turbocharger to provide added power for a limited amount of time over a lap.
You’ll often see drivers use this when defending or when they’re looking to make a move, as Alex is in this case.
If it’s a dry race and you see the red lights at the rear of a Formula 1 car blinking, it means that the driver is conserving energy.

Next up:

See More

Chequered Flag

ALEX: “******* hell… that was fun!”
PIT: “That was close, huh?! P8, P8!”
VOWLES: “Well done, Alex! You made that exciting, good job.”
ALEX: “I don’t know if it matters, but that Ferrari did track limits [violations] in the last three corners of the lap… he was definitely over track limits.”
PIT: “Similar to Miami last year, maybe?”
ALEX: “Yep!”
PIT: “OK, nice job. Still got plenty of new tyres for tomorrow as well, so nice effort.”
ALEX: “Yeah, well done everyone!”
PIT: “So Leclerc’s got four track limits [notifications] by the way…”
After a brilliant fight, Alex made his way to P8 and almost pipped Leclerc on the line – the Ferrari beating him to the flag by just 0.004s.
However, Alex was quick to point out that the Ferrari was taking some rather interesting lines on the final tour of Lusail and it became clear that we could be set to climb further into the points post-race, much like we did in Miami last season.
Just as Alex was hopping out of his FW45 following a job well done, James Urwin shares that the FIA systems did indeed note Leclerc’s four track limit violations and within the hour he’d be handed a five-second penalty – Alex climbed to P7.
If you want to find out what is said during the races as it happens, join us for our exclusive live feed on our app each Grand Prix weekend.
The official Williams Racing app
Download our app for all the latest news, behind-the-scenes videos, our Pit Wall Predictions game and much more.
Contact & Media
Store Location
Stay in the Loop
Powered By
© the Williams Group, under licence to Williams IP Holdings LLC
Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited is a company registered in England and Wales under company number 1297497. Its registered office is at Grove, Wantage, Oxfordshire, OX12 0DQ
Powered By