The second Sprint Saturday of the 2023 Formula One season had Williams Racing running in the points, but leaving empty-handed after Alex Albon finished P13 and Logan Sargeant P18.
Another stellar single-lap performance from Albono had him on the cusp of reaching SQ3 in the Sprint Shootout before a tremendous start launched him into P7 during the damp conditions in Sprint.
As in Canada, Alex’s defensive prowess kept him in a points-paying position, but a switch to dry tyres in the closing laps while other frontrunners stayed on intermediates sadly allowed others to get by, relegating the No23 to P13.
For Sarge, he kept his cool in multiple wheel-to-wheel battles throughout the 24-lap race against the Alfa Romeos and fellow rookies Oscar Piastri and Nyck de Vries in the challenging conditions.
With a top-10 starting slot tomorrow and our upgraded FW45 showing it can fight for points, our attention turns to the Grand Prix, where Alex and Logan will look to carry the momentum forwards.
“It’s a frustrating way to finish what started as a good sprint race, with a great start,” reflected Alex after his Saturday’s running.
“I was comfortable, managing quite a lot with Ocon behind me as he was fighting with Charles, so I had margin to save my tyres with a nice buffer.
“With tyres left on the inters, whilst obviously not being as quick as the cars behind us, I felt comfortable enough to stay there.
“I think with the Mercedes’ performing well on the slicks, we thought it was the right choice to pit but it didn’t work.”
Albono believes points were possible, concluding, “At the end of the day, Ocon finished P7 so we could’ve had two P7s in a row and 2 points is a big deal for us but it didn’t work, so we’ll look ahead to tomorrow and try to refocus.”
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Logan had a busy day of being around his rivals throughout all 24 laps. Our American said, “It was honestly a decent race. The first lap was tricky with the amount of spray from starting at the back but I managed it.
“I made a few good overtakes and felt comfortable in the wet. I think we boxed a little bit too late for the slick tyre at the end to really make it count.
“It was good learning and I have a reference for next time of when I can switch off that tyre. Nevertheless, a good fight with the AlphaTauri guys towards the end of the race.”
Logan’s progress was a little masked by his final P18 classification, but he was in good spirits:
“Starting from P20 was always going to be tough but it was a fun race. I think we have a good race car going into tomorrow, so we’ll do our best to make something work with the strategy.
“I’ll also do my best to make some good moves, and hopefully we can get as far forward as possible.”
Dave Robson, our Head of Vehicle Performance, summarised Saturday’s performance: “Despite a reasonably good day, the result, in the end, was very frustrating.”
He went on to say, “Alex qualified well in the shootout and had an excellent opening lap in the damp conditions.
“We should’ve left him out on the inters but we were expecting more degradation than there actually was.
“We could’ve got a point or two today, so we need to have a look at what we did. With Russell finishing so close to Ocon, it would’ve been a very tight finish, but we should’ve had more confidence in our ability to manage the intermediate tyre.”
Switching focus to the other FW45, Dave continues on to explain, “Logan had a frustrating formation lap, stuck behind Bottas who was on the slick tyre, and this prevented him from getting a good sense of the conditions.
“Nonetheless, he had a good race and showed some strong pace. Crucially, it gave some more valuable experience on running the Pirelli slicks in damp conditions, which build on his experience in Canada, and will serve him well in the future.
“We now return our attention to the Grand Prix, which looks likely to be held in dry conditions. Alex qualified well on Friday and we now have another chance of a strong result.”