Report: Alex secures our first F1 Sprint points

Published on
07 Oct 2023
Est. reading time
4 Min

A remarkable drive saw the Thai racer charge from P17 to P7 in the final classification

After a tough Sprint Shootout, the chance to score points in the F1 Sprint looked like a distant dream – step forward, Alex Albon.
Our duo lined up in P17 and P20 respectively, with Alex starting on used mediums and Logan on fresh softs.
Both had a clean getaway on the opening tour and gained two positions before the Safety Car was deployed to recover Liam Lawson’s beached AlphaTauri.
After a quick turnaround, it wasn’t long before the SC was out again. Sadly, it was to recover Logan’s stranded FW45 at Turn 9.
With one car left in the Sprint, all our attention turned towards Alex on the second restart, but he’d lose a position to Yuki Tsunoda at Turn 1, dropping him to P18.
This is where the fightback began. On the very next lap, Albono regained P17 from Tsunoda before moving up another place on Lap 10, dispatching Kevin Magnussen at the end of the DRS zone.
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!
The next lap, Sergio Perez, Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Ocon tangled at Turn 2, bringing out the Safety Car for a third time and allowing some struggling soft tyre runners to pit.
We would get back underway on Lap 15, and by now, Alex had filtered his way up to P11, but not for long.
Valtteri Bottas was in his sights, and again he made the move stick before Pierre Gasly became the next driver to be overtaken by our No23.
Onto the final lap and Alex was on the fringes of the points-paying positions. It didn’t take long for him to enter the top eight as the soft tyre runners seriously began to struggle.
Fernando Alonso went from in front of Albono to in his rear-view mirrors before our driver saw his next target: the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
The Monegasque driver managed to stay ahead, albeit thanks to four track limit violations, and in a drag race to the line, he pipped Alex by 0.004s.
However, the FIA would hand Leclerc a five-second time penalty, elevating Alex to P7 at the finish – our maiden points in an F1 Sprint.
An F1 Sprint to remember!
“We capitalised on everyone’s difficulties today and this resulted in a point, which is now two points following Charles’ penalty, so I’m very happy!” Alex shared.
“We took a gamble with set-up, and we made it work, so I think it came down to good strategy and some good fortune.
“We’re going to be in a good place for tomorrow, as long as the wind is low like it was in the Sprint, which it looks to be.”

Show your support for Albono!

Logan was left to rue a mistake that brought an early end to his evening but knows there’s another chance tomorrow, saying: “I asked for too much when I turned in off the entry curb and the rear went super light.
“A silly mistake but the positive is that I’ve been driving well all weekend. The pace has been good, and we’ll carry that into tomorrow and try to have a good Grand Prix.
“So, that’s the plan and I’m looking forward to having another go in a better starting position on the grid.”

Austin on the horizon...

Our Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson was unable to take his eyes off of the action in an enthralling 19-lap Sprint and paid testament to the efforts of the team for helping us secure our first points in this format.
“Conditions were completely different between today’s two sessions,” Dave commented, adding: “In the afternoon shootout session, we struggled to find grip and balance from the tyres and chassis.
“Consequently, we qualified poorly for the sprint race. However, in the cooler and calmer evening session, the car was considerably better, and Alex was able to make very good progress, helped by his choice of the more robust Medium tyre compound.
“Logan was on the more delicate Soft tyre and may have struggled more towards the end of the race, however, his race ended early when he left the track and ended in the gravel trap.
“Incredibly, it’s only Saturday evening and there is a lot more of this Qatar event still to unfold.
“With some concerns over the tyre behaviour on the kerbs, there may yet be some additional restrictions that we will need to follow tomorrow.
“We have a good complement of tyres available to both drivers and we are expecting benign conditions like we enjoyed this evening. Both drivers will be looking to make places and fight for points.
“The whole team performed well today; it would’ve been easy for heads to drop after our performance in the shootout, but everyone continued to work diligently and prepare thoroughly for the sprint race.
“Today that work paid off and we scored our first points at a sprint event.”
“Finally, congratulations to Max and the whole team at Red Bull Racing for securing the Drivers’ Championship today. They have set the benchmark this season and they continue to provide a very high bar for us to aim for.”
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