Formula 1’s return from the summer break delivered an incredibly dramatic race that saw Williams Racing depart with one car in the points.
Alex Albon drove remarkably all afternoon and came home in P8, whilst a hydraulic issue for Logan Sargeant saw him spin into the barriers early on.
There was always going to be a threat of rain around the start of proceedings, but it arrived just as all 20 drivers were lining up on the grid for lights out.
Both Alex and Logan dropped positions on the opening tour, but the rain continued to fall heavier and a few drivers opted to pit at the end of the opening lap.
The same was true at the end of Lap 2 and by now, we were committed to staying out on the softs as this rain was only forecasted to last a short amount of time.
It was Lap 8 by the time the track started to favour the soft tyre once more, but our pair were now P15 and P20 respectively.
Three laps later, DRS was once again enabled and those intermediate tyre runners all peeled back into the pits once more.
Alex had filtered his way up to P11 after passing George Russell on track and he was soon back into the points after sending it up the inside of Yuki Tsunoda at Turn 1.
On Lap 16, we were down to one car left in the race after Logan found the barrier at Turn 8 – he was immediately on the radio to report something felt wrong when he hurt the kerb.
Post-race, it was clear that our American suffered a hydraulic loss which resulted in his accident and an unfortunate early exit.
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The Safety Car peeled in at the end of Lap 21 and Alex had a clean restart and so set about catching those ahead,
Moves on Kevin Magnussen and Zhou Guanyu were successfully made and Albono found himself running in P6 on merit and still yet to pit.
He made the soft tyres last until Lap 44 and was running in P5 when our No23 made the switch to mediums, dropping back to P11.
Alex quickly set about returning P6 through a mixture of overtakes and passes whilst drivers ahead stopped.
But we hadn’t seen the last of the weather, with a heavy rain cell fast approaching the circuit from the North Sea before it arrived on Lap 61.
Some drivers ahead made the switch to the intermediate a lap before Alex, with the Thai racer remerging to the circuit in P9 as the rain became torrential.
Multiple cars suffered aquaplaning at Turn 1, including Zhou who had a hefty hit into the barriers and the decision was made to red flag proceedings.
After a 45-minute delay, we returned to the circuit for two laps under the Safety Car before we went green for the closing stages.
Alex passed Russell for P8, where he stayed until the chequered flag to earn himself and the team four more points.
How we fared in Zandvoort
“You could argue we should’ve pitted earlier at the start of the race, but we stuck to our guns and it worked for us with tyre management, managing for 40-odd laps on the softs,” Alex shared as he reflected post-race.
“You can only do that with a car that’s good and it felt strong all weekend. It was very easy to control the front and rear degradation, just with tools and driving, always able to shift the balance where I needed it to be.
“Then we pitted for mediums and began making our way up the order towards P5 and P4 and I thought it was perfect until I found out about the rain.
“We need to review that second pitstop call; it’s so tricky because I didn’t pit and for the first half of the lap I thought I’d overcut the two cars in front of me but in 30 seconds it went from a soft to a full wet tyre and we lost out on the undercut.
“It happens; it feels like we finish today slightly disappointed that we didn't finish in 6th, but 8th is still an amazing result for us, especially considering we’re here on merit this weekend.
“It’s been our strongest weekend yet and the best I’ve felt in the car in my time at Williams, so there’s so many positives to take from here.”
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Across the other side of the garage, Logan reflected on a tough afternoon on the Dutch coast, saying: “It was a tricky start to the race with the rain coming down.
“It looks like the inters were maybe the better option, but we tried to survive out there on the slicks and, after yesterday, I was just trying to be extremely cautious and build up nicely, but I lost a bit too much tyre temperature in those wet conditions.
“Then, unfortunately, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. I touched the kerb and it seems that from the impact of that, we had an issue with hydraulics and power steering.
“Once I lost that assistance there was really nothing I could do. I still need to watch it back, but we need to look into what went wrong.
“I want to say a huge thank you to the team for getting the car turned around for today.”
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, had a busy and rather damp afternoon on the pit wall but was left pleased to take points away from an event many wouldn’t have expected us to.
“Overall, it was a really strong result for the team today,” he said. “To finish 8th in Zandvoort with our main rivals out of the points is a great result, however, having worked our way back to 6th place with Alex, the timing of the final rain interruption was frustrating.
“The car worked well this weekend and whilst there are a few things that we could’ve done better today, we can be pleased with the result.
“We’ll review the race and understand how we could’ve done better in the changeable conditions and we’ll be stronger next time.
“The team did an excellent job to repair Logan’s car overnight and it was a shame that he was unable to finish the race.
“We are still investigating the cause of his DNF, but he suffered with a loss of hydraulics.
“We now look forward to Monza, which is the second ATA event of the season and quite a different challenge to this weekend in Zandvoort.”
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