The 2023 Japanese Grand Prix was an afternoon to forget as the team experienced a tough race at Suzuka Circuit, with both cars forced to retire.
Alex Albon lined up P13 on the grid but took a heavy hit into his right-hand side shortly after the lights went out, forcing him into a stop at the end of the opening tour.
Logan Sargeant started from the pit lane with a 10-second penalty to his name after work was done to his car in Parc Fermé conditions.
Our American racer naturally made up some positions after multiple opening lap incidents but when the Safety Car was deployed, he took the chance to clear his penalty.
When we went back to green flag conditions on Lap 5, Logan suffered a lock up at the T11 hairpin and clipped Valtteri Bottas, damaging his front wing in the process.
Sarge boxed for repairs and was later handed a five-second penalty.
A Virtual Safety Car was deployed on Lap 13 and Alex pulled in for a cheaper pit stop, but he remained stationary in the box for much longer than we all would have liked.
Logan would stop on Lap 22 and serve his penalty but was asked to pull back in on the very next lap to retire, with Alex receiving the same call on Lap 27 – both were forced to retire from the race after suffering progressive damage from their respective incidents.
An early end to our Japanese GP
“No car is strong enough to survive those kinds of crashes,” Alex explained after the race.
“A bad start kind of triggered it, so we need to work on that, but then we were in the wrong position at the wrong time and I got squeezed.
“I had damage from lap one and it was pretty much game over so it’s a shame.
“We tried to push on and see if the race would unfold and see what would happen as this race is a bit of a battle of attrition, but ultimately we needed to retire the car.”
Logan was unsurprisingly disappointed after his weekend came to a premature end, saying: “A hectic first few laps for sure. I came out of the pit lane to a lot of debris on the track being worried about getting a puncture.
“From my side on the incident, I locked the fronts the second I touched the brakes at Turn 11.
“It’s my fault but [Valtteri] Bottas must not have seen that I locked up before making the move. Unfortunately, we had to retire the car following the contact.
“It’s disappointing for a track where we had the car in a pretty good place and decent pace, especially in qualifying, to come away not even finishing the race. We’ll move on and focus on Qatar.”
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Dave Robson had his eyes across all of the data and decisions made throughout the afternoon.
“We were forced to retire both cars today after both sustained early damage from contact with other cars,” our Head of Vehicle Performance shared.
“Both sustained front wing and floor damage and whilst we were able to change the front wings, the floor damage worsened, and it was no longer possible to continue with either car.
“It is very frustrating not to finish the race with either car, but we can now get back to Grove, regroup and get ready to tackle the Lusail International Circuit in Qatar, which we last visited in 2021.”
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