Report: Alex secures first point of the season after a stunning drive down under

Published on
10 Apr 2022
Est. reading time
5 Min

AA23 crossed the line in P10 with NL6 in P16

A bold strategy matched by a stunning drive meant that Alex Albon secured his and the team's first point of the 2022 season.
After starting on the hard compound tyre, the Thai driver, who began in P20, stayed on the same set for 57 laps before switching to the softs on the final lap to come home in P10.
Both Alex and Nicky maintained their position after a clean start before the Safety Car was brought out on Lap 3 to fetch Carlos Sainz’s beached Ferrari.
Lap 13 saw AA23 get past his teammate before NL6 boxed to ditch his medium tyres for a set of hards, coming out P19.
The race would be neutralised once again on Lap 24 after Sebastian Vettel hit the wall after T4 which allowed many drivers the chance to stop, including Nicky but not Alex, who jumped up to P10.
After a second Safety Car restart on Lap 27, everyone stayed out of trouble and Alex continued to find pace in his ageing rubber, finding himself in the middle of an eight-car battle for the points.
A Virtual Safety Car was deployed with just under 20 laps remaining after Max Verstappen's retirement, prompting yet more stops from which Alex benefited, climbing to P7.
As we got back up to racing speed on Lap 40, Alex’s Race Engineer, James Urwin, came over the radio to pass on some good news, saying: “You’re on Plan A plus 15.”
Our No23's pace on the hard tyres remained strong, pulling away from Esteban Ocon behind and as drivers further back got caught up in a fight, the pair were able to open a gap.
With three laps to go, a points finish for Alex was on the cards and on Lap 57/58 he finally pulled in.
He was in a race at the pit exit, but Alex returned to the circuit ahead of Zhou Guanyu in P10, meaning all he had to do was keep it on the road… and he did it!
“I am very pleased with how today went,” he explained, continuing: “We came in this morning, looked at our race predictions starting from last and felt pretty sad, so to end Sunday with a point is extremely rewarding.
“It was a race where we took risks and really allowed our tyres to get into a nice window, and from then they just felt better and better.
“I was putting in what felt like continuous qualifying laps for the last 25 laps of the race! For me, it really highlights the work that’s been done at the factory and at the track; this is the result of the team’s determination and motivation.
“It’s been a great day and I’m really happy to have played my part in this for the team.”
Alex is greeted by his trainer, Patrick, post-race
Alex is greeted by his trainer, Patrick, post-race
Across the other side of the garage, Nicky would finish ahead of Fernando Alonso in P16 and the Canadian, although disappointed after a difficult weekend, found time to congratulate his teammate, saying:
“It was definitely a tricky race, but we were expecting that after the FP2 high fuel running that we did.
“It seemed that we struggled with the tyres quite a lot, experiencing graining on both compounds and struggling to keep them in the right window. There was a lot going on with multiple safety cars and Virtual Safety Car periods.
“It was great to see Alex finish P10 in the end and I’m super happy for the whole team.
“It’s been a difficult start to the season and there’s still a lot to find on my side. If Alex is able to extract that performance out of the FW44 then there’s no reason why we can’t in the other car.
“We will now spend a lot of time looking through the data and understand how we can make it work.”
Dave Robson, our Head of Vehicle Performance, broke down exactly what went right for AA23 when we caught up with him once he was done on the pit wall.
“Alex drove brilliantly today and found a sweet spot on the Prime tyre, which gave him good pace and, crucially, much less degradation than many other cars,” he said, adding: “He completed a very long stint and we ignored several opportunities to pit under safety cars, hoping that something might happen to allow us to keep as many of the gains as possible.
“In the end, the degradation of cars behind and difficulty in overtaking gave us a small opportunity to run until the very end and pull a gap big enough for a pitstop.
“Under huge pressure, the pit crew were very good, and Alex was quick enough on the out-lap to secure tenth place.
“After the ups and down of the previous two days, this was an excellent result for the entire team.
“Nicholas had a more difficult race following a very different strategy to Alex. We wanted to spend a lot of the race on the Prime tyre with both cars, but we chose to get Nicky’s Option stint done early in the race rather than put him on the riskier strategy that Alex followed.
“Nicky found the opening stint on the Option difficult and showed degradation like most of the field.
“His pace on the Prime was better, but he still couldn’t quite match the degradation of Alex.
“We need to understand if differences in the car and driving style contributed to this, and this will be the main focus of our work as we prepare for the next race in Imola.”
The team celebrate in the garage as Alex crossed the line
The team celebrate in the garage as Alex crossed the line
As day turned to night in the Melbourne paddock, CEO and Team Principal Jost Capito was happy for the whole team after a memorable Australian Grand Prix.
“To get a point early in the season is good for the team and I'm extremely happy for everyone - the team deserved this.
“We've had a difficult start to the season, and even yesterday was difficult, but that's the good thing about racing - things can change on Sunday and it's not over until it's over.
“If you keep pushing and always stay motivated, keep the team alive and believing in itself, then fortunes can change.”
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