Alex Albon will start the Bahrain Grand Prix from P14 after getting his FW44 through to Q2.
After hooking up a strong final lap in Q1, the Thai driver managed to book his spot through to the second round in just his first qualifying outing with the team.
His teammate Nicholas Latifi will start from P20 after recording a 1:33.634 on his final run in the first session, shaving 0.8s off of his qualifying simulation from Friday practice.
In Q2, Alex would lock in a 1:32.664 whilst on a clear track during his last run to secure a spot on the seventh row of the grid on Sunday.
Pleased with the progress made from Friday, Alex came over the team radio to say: “Thanks everyone, really happy. Feels really good to start off like this.”
“We have mixed feelings after qualifying today,” said Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, adding: “We expected it to be difficult even though we have made some steady progress over the last couple of days.
“In Free Practice this morning we got a good understanding of what Alex is looking for from the tyres and we were able to apply that successfully in Qualifying.
“Although we set out to achieve something similar with Nicholas, the difficulties of a busy track in Q1 made this difficult to achieve.”
“We understand where the raw pace of the car is, and we know that we need to work on that quite quickly.
“However, we also have a good idea of how to make the most of what we have and today that allowed Alex to beat several faster cars.
“There are challenges to overcome, but we are looking forward to the race tomorrow knowing that there will likely be opportunities to outperform the car.”
Understandably, Alex was happy with his result and when we caught up with him after hopping out of the car, he said: “We put it all on the table today and the result was more than we expected, so it’s a pretty special one.
“The car gives me a lot of confidence, as do the team, which really enabled me to push and get the most out of Qualifying.
“Coming into the session, I was expecting similar struggles to those we experienced in testing, but the car felt alive, quick and agile, so I’m going into Sunday feeling positive.”
Across the other side of the garage, Nicky is ready to help crunch the numbers as work begins ahead of the race, saying: “It's definitely not what we expected from Qualifying, there’s clearly been a lack of pace all weekend.
“Each session we’ve actually been learning quite a lot, but for some reason, it’s felt like we’ve been going backwards as the car felt the best in FP1, which is strange for a track like this especially.
“I know why I was so far off - the answer is clear - the question is why we couldn’t make the tyres work the way we need them to. It’s not ideal, but the race is tomorrow and we’ve got a lot to analyse before then to further our learning.”
As for our Academy drivers, Zak O’Sullivan finished P6 in the Formula 3 Sprint, whilst up in Formula 2, Logan Sargeant similarly crossed the line in P6, with Roy Nissany coming home P12.
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