The run of rain-affected Formula 1 weekends continued on Saturday in the Netherlands, but Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant both delivered a good result in tricky conditions.
Alex equalled his career-best qualifying position and will start from P4 on Sunday, whilst Logan reached Q3 for the very first time.
The damp conditions from FP3 were still present by the time qualifying rolled around, but the track was getting quicker with every lap completed.
Both of our drivers bolted on fresh intermediates to lock in their progression to Q2, Alex doing so by finishing P1.
Any lingering rain had departed by Q2 and our pair again did what they had to do to get through to the final phase.
Albono ended the second stage in P3 whilst Logan delivered when it mattered most, snatching P10 on his final push.
For the first time since the 2017 Italian Grand Prix, we had both cars in the top 10 shootout and the track was now dry enough for slicks.
The scenes inside the garage as both cars secured their progression to Q3
Both Alex and Logan ventured out for their first soft tyre laps of the day but Logan’s afternoon soon came to an abrupt end, spinning at Turn 2 and hitting the barrier, causing a red flag.
After circuit repairs were completed, we were back underway again but not for too long when Charles Leclerc caused a second red flag.
With four minutes left, it all came down to one final push for Alex to see how high he could place his FW45 on the grid for Sunday's race.
A strong 1:11.419 was good enough for P4 on the grid, capping off another memorable day in his Williams Racing career.
“We were good in FP1, FP2, FP3, and of course thought we’d start dropping back down and that we’d hit our sweet spot early, not playing with the car too much since FP1,” Alex shared, adding: “But this made me feel confident.
“So, when you add confidence with a track like this which is so narrow and uncompromising, add in mixed conditions, you really need to feel at one with the car, and I have this weekend.
“We needed a car that was driveable on the limit and fortunately, our car has been all weekend.
“There’s been a nice headwind through some of the corners, so I definitely think that played a part today and helped us a lot more than normal.
“We’ve been quite surprised with our high downforce performance this weekend, so hopefully we can deliver on it tomorrow.”
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Logan became the first American to qualify within the top 10 for three decades but was left with mixed feelings after the accident ended his Q3 appearance early.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Sarge commented. “To make Q3 is a huge thing for us.
“There are so many positives to take; the team and car have been fantastic all weekend and I delivered good laps when they counted in Q1 and Q2 to get there.
“It felt like we had a good chance going into a dry last session, and Alex proved that with his result, but it’s fine margins in these conditions.
“I need to look back and see what went wrong, but not dwell on it because our long run pace here has been great.
“We’ll get the car rebuilt as close as we can and try to score some points.
“I’ve personally seen progress the entire European leg and I know it is just a matter of time; I’m really close now, starting to understand how to extract the time from the car and that’s what makes today even more painful.
“I’m disappointed to leave the team with a damaged car but I’ll reset, help the team and we’ll go again tomorrow.
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Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, was keen to ensure the entire team, both trackside and back at base, took credit for one of our best Saturday results for some time, reflecting: “The Zandvoort circuit is a great circuit in the dry, but in the wet conditions, it really becomes an exciting challenge.
“We made some changes to the car overnight but then reworked the FP3 plan after the rain fell.
“We were reasonably strong in FP3 but could see that we didn’t have the car quite right for those conditions.
“We were able to make some further changes ahead of Qualifying and these helped us step the performance up another notch in the drying conditions.
“Both drivers responded to the changing conditions very well and embraced the test that this circuit offers.
“Qualifying was reasonably calm throughout and whilst it was a shame that Logan ended his Q3 session early, he nonetheless delivered an excellent performance up to that point.
“He is rewarded with a top 10 start for the Grand Prix tomorrow, which gives him the chance to have a very strong race.
“Alex was again brilliant in the difficult conditions and was able to complete a very competitive lap at the end of the session.
“Starting the Grand Prix in 4th place is a great result for Alex and the entire team.
“The team in Holland and in Grove performed very well today and they have put us in a strong position for the race tomorrow.
“The weather remains uncertain but however it transpires, we can put up a decent challenge and look to score points with both cars.”
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