Report: São Paulo’s Sprint Saturday

Published on
04 Nov 2023
Est. reading time
4 Min

Making the most after Shootout setbacks

The final Sprint of 2023 ended with Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant taking P15 and P20 after a relentless 24 laps around Interlagos.
SQ1 traffic and a red flag stoppage hindered the chance for either FW45 to set a final fast lap, and we lined up on the back row for Sprint.
Undeterred, Albono made his way past four of our competitors in just 10 laps, overtaking both Alfa Romeo and Haas cars from his P19 starting position.
Our No23 made it past Guanyu Zhou on the opening lap before overtaking Valtteri Bottas at Turn 4, even with the Alfa Romeo dropping oil on the track.
The Haas pair were next to fall, and Albono slowly but surely made his way to the midpack, finishing the race within a second of Esteban Ocon’s P14.
For Logan, a DRS train stretching back from Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, who repeatedly swapped places, had the American stuck behind Zhou’s rear wing.
With the Alfa Romeo duo running fresh Pirelli soft tyres and Logan equipped with the mediums, finding an opening proved troublesome.
Nonetheless, we have 48 combined laps of data to pull from after Alex and Logan safely brought their cars home, and we will look to make progress in tomorrow’s Grand Prix.
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It wasn’t a return to Sprint points for Alex today, but after gaining so many places in the race, he remains optimistic about the weekend:
“It was a decent race for us today, despite being at the back.
“The pace was reasonable but the degradation for most drivers was massive, so it feels quite terrible to drive if I’m honest.
“It’s a strange one as when you have that much deg, you’d think you’d just go on harder tyres, but the Hard tyres are so bad around here, with the Softs being the only tyre with reasonable grip.
“I think strategy is going to be quite interesting tomorrow with it ultimately being dependent on deg, so we’ll see but hopefully we’ll be okay.”
Reflecting on his first racing laps at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Logan said:
“It’s a Sprint race, so you take what you can. For sure we learnt a few things on direction for tomorrow, but we couldn’t risk the car for tomorrow, so it’s just frustrating being stuck in a DRS train.
“If I had clean air today, I would have had a lot of pace. Alex was able to move forward, which is positive, and I think if I’d have encountered the cars ahead individually, rather than in a DRS train, I would have been able to do the same.
“We just need to be able to try to find those gaps tomorrow to work our way forward.
“It’s not been an easy weekend for us but tomorrow looks a bit cooler, which should suit us better, and I think we have pace advantage on quite a few cars ahead in race trim, so we have 71 laps to take advantage of that.”

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Armed with plenty of useful data ready for Sunday’s race, Dave Robson, our Head of Vehicle Performance, explained:
“Today was difficult with Alex unable to set his final laptime in Sprint Shootout 1 following the red flag.
“Whilst we didn’t expect today to be easy, starting the sprint race with both cars on the back row was not a fair reflection of our real performance.
“The track was very hot for the sprint race and we opted to run each driver on a different compound as part of our preparation for tomorrow.
“Alex was able to move forwards, picking off the slower cars in front before finding free air and setting a good pace.
“Although the degradation was high and the car was difficult to drive, his stint pace was good relative to the competition.”
Like Sarge explained, Dave noted the difficulty for passing when so many cars are following each other closely, saying, “Logan had similar pace but was stuck in a DRS train, which makes overtaking here very difficult.
“Nonetheless, he collected some useful data and experience that will help us tomorrow.
“Alex starts tomorrow’s Grand Prix in a good position and has an opportunity to fight for a points-scoring position.
“Logan starts a little further back, but he has the pace to progress and his experience today will help him attack tomorrow.”
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