Report: Fractions away from a Stateside Sprint point

Published on
22 Oct 2023
Est. reading time
4 Min

Alex Albon crossed the line in P9 with Logan Sargeant in P19 after the 19-lap F1 Sprint at COTA

Three-tenths was all that separated Alex Albon and a second-successive Sprint points finish after a late charge saw him come up just short.
Our Thai racer had enjoyed a strong Shootout earlier in the afternoon, reaching SQ3 for just the second time in his career.
He locked in a P9 starting spot for the 19-lap race, but after a three-place penalty went George Russell’s way, he would find himself starting from within the points-paying positions.
Across the other side of our garage, Logan Sargeant was unable to progress out of SQ1, improving on his final push but not by enough and he would line up in P20.
As the sun began to drop in the Texas sky, it was time to Sprint. Unlike last time out in Qatar, there was no opening lap drama, but Alex would drop a couple of positions on the opening tour.
By the fifth lap, Alex was hassling the McLaren of Oscar Piastri, and on the next rotation, he’d make his move. He sent it at the end of the back straight and made the move stick at T12.
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He’d start to move clear of the Australian before word spread to him that Russell, two cars ahead, had been handed a five-second penalty.
The former Williams racer was stuck behind Carlos Sainz, the only car to go for a soft tyre strategy and Albono started to close in on that five-second threshold that would lift him back into the points.
As we entered the closing stages, Logan was battling Kevin Magnussen for P18 after Lance Stroll was forced to retire. Our home favourite would get close to the Haas on several occasions but couldn’t make a move stick.
In the final stages, Alex was within touching distance. He’d come agonisingly close to snatching the last Sprint point, with 0.3s the difference after the penalty was applied.
Just outside of the points on Sprint Saturday
“We went for it in the Sprint, as we were looking much stronger than yesterday, so we gave ourselves the biggest opportunity to score points,” Alex explained.
“It’s so tight out there and to just miss out is frustrating but at the same time, it was a good race and we can’t discredit that.
“Obviously to finish P9, just outside of the points is what makes it frustrating. The tyres are interesting here and if I were to do it over, I would do things a bit differently, but this track can be difficult and my tyres started to deg, then came back at the end allowing us to push and try close the gap.
“We have race pace, so starting P18 tomorrow, hopefully we can fight the cars around us.”
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Logan is looking to use today’s experience as a springboard for tomorrow’s full race.
“It was always going to be difficult starting where we did,” Sarge shared. “We’re still quite disconnected from high to low speed and that’s been a bit of a challenge.
“I struggled to be quick in the place I needed to be quick to have the chance for an overtake. I’m still in search for a bit more pace.
“The main takeaway is getting a taste of what the car is going to be like on a long run and which direction we need to try to move in.
“We’ll see what we can take from today and try to get in a better position for tomorrow.”

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Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, concluded our Sprint Saturday reaction by saying: “We had a much stronger day today. In contrast to yesterday, and perhaps helped by the mandated use of the Medium compound this morning, we were on the right side of the fine margins and Alex was able to progress through to the final stage of Sprint Shootout.
“Logan found it a little more difficult and couldn’t get the second lap on the tyres in Sprint Shootout 1.
“In the Sprint race, Alex was able to race hard and still manage his degradation well. It was a shame that he lost a couple of places on the opening lap as it meant we couldn’t quite score a point once George’s penalty was applied.
“The car performed well today, and we should be able to transform that into a good race performance tomorrow.
“Given our starting position, achieving a strong result will be difficult but we’ll be pushing hard to achieve everything possible.”
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