Report: Short of points in wet Belgian Sprint

Published on
29 Jul 2023
Est. reading time
4 Min

Alex Albon finished P12 and Logan Sargeant came home P16 in a reduced F1 Sprint in Spa

Despite a battling effort in tricky conditions, both Alex and Logan fell short of the points in a shortened F1 Sprint at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Earlier in the day on a drying track, both Alex and Logan managed to progress through the first stage of the Sprint Shootout.
A spin for Logan in SQ2 left him without a time on the board going into his final push, with Alex waiting back in the garage to have a single attempt at progressing.
As the crossover from intermediates to slicks approached, Lance Stroll tried to get through on the medium compound. The Canadian collided with the barrier at T9, bringing out the red flag and ending our hopes of making it through.
With Alex in P12 and Logan in P13 on the grid, our sights were set on attacking those ahead. However, a downpour minutes before the formation lap was due to begin led to a delayed start.
After half an hour and five formation laps on mandatory wet tyres, the Safety Car peeled in and so did half of the field to fit intermediates.
With our duo running in tandem, it wasn’t possible to stack so Logan remained out on the full wets whilst Alex stopped.
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The entire field had switched to intermediates by the end of Lap 2 of 11, with our No23 in P13 and our No2 in P17.
With no more rain forecast, the circuit quickly dried and it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage the tyres.
The Safety Car was called out again on Lap 4 after Fernando Alonso found the gravel at Pouhon before we were back green once more just two laps later.
Alex went three-wide with Lance Stroll and George Russell down the Kemmel Straight on the restart but couldn’t make the move stick.
Ahead, a collision between Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton saw the Mexican tumble down the order and eventually retire before Logan also made a position gain on Nico Hulkenberg.
At the chequered flag, we crossed the line in P12 and P14, but with Logan handed a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, he was classified in P16.
A graphic showing Alex in P12 and Logan in P16
A difficult Sprint in tricky conditions
“That was really tough,” Alex explained, continuing: “We’ve been struggling all weekend in this greasy weather, where we just can’t seem to get on top of it.
“We got some understanding of it during the Sprint Shootout; however, we were just putting new tyres on the car. As soon as we did more than 9 corners, the tyres were overheating.
“It’s good to go through these periods where it becomes clear to us that we’re weak in these conditions, and it’s obvious when you see the tyres overheating quickly.
“With a lower downforce set up, it normally works around here, however, you don’t see the benefit of the straights when you’re sliding through corners with the heat building and the tyres continuously overheating.
“If the race can stay dry tomorrow, we’ll be in a good place.”
Logan added: “A difficult Sprint race out there and in those drying conditions the tyres were really struggling to hang on.
“All in all, considering I was the second Williams car to pit, I extracted the maximum from our situation today.
“I could’ve potentially had a slightly better Q2 by finishing that lap.
“Hopefully if it’s dry conditions tomorrow it should suit our car better and we should have an opportunity to move forward.”
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, wrapped out F1 Sprint reaction by sharing: “Another day of very mixed weather. We were better today on the Inters at low fuel but in the drying conditions, they didn’t last very long.
“We opted to go for a single timed lap at the end of the second part of the Shootout but were unable to set a lap time when the session ended early following the red flag.
“It would have been good to try the car on a slick tyre in the final part of the Sprint Shootout but otherwise it was a good session.
“The Sprint race was difficult as the track dried rapidly, which increased the degradation on the Intermediates.
“There wasn’t enough time to move to the slick tyres and make up for the pit stop. Therefore, the drivers had to manage the Inters to the end of the race.
“It was a difficult day but provided some good learning ahead of the Grand Prix tomorrow.”
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