Report: A physical fight in Lusail

Published on
08 Oct 2023
Est. reading time
3 Min

Tough times on track at Qatar

Williams Racing couldn’t quite make it two consecutive point-scoring days across the Qatar Grand Prix weekend in one of the most physically demanding Sundays this year.
First and foremost, we’re thankful that Logan Sargeant had the all-clear from the on-site medical team after our American rookie retired on Lap 41 after suffering from intense dehydration.
Sarge had flu-like symptoms earlier in the week, further exacerbating the already demanding conditions in the Qatari heat and humidity.
A maiden Qatar GP for Alex Albon ended with a P13 classification despite picking up late-race time penalties for exceeding track limits that changed his race from attacking ahead to defending his advantage.
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Albono did enjoy a high point, however: For the first time since 2015, Williams Racing led a race after a myriad of tyre strategies came to the fore, and we maximised No23’s opening run on Pirelli’s medium rubber.
An FIA ruling mandated the teams to stick to an 18-lap limit on any tyre stint, effectively leading to an enforced three-stop strategy for all drivers on an unusual Sunday of racing.
Our two points from Sprint have even more value as the gap to P8 in the World Constructors’ Standings closed to seven points as we prepare for 2023’s final five rounds.
Alex shrugged off his time penalties and set his fastest lap on the final tour of the Lusail Circuit to keep his P13 placement.

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Like his teammate, Albono had a trip to the medical centre for acute heat exposure on a challenging day for all, but had this to say after getting the all-clear:
"Firstly, I’m glad Logan is okay as it’s never easy to retire from a race. I think this race goes down as one of the toughest of the year, as I suffered with heat exposure myself.
"Our pace was pretty strong, but I need to review what happened, as we were in what felt like a good position, but we ended up falling out of the points.
"We also struggled with a bit of an overheating cockpit, so we’ll also need to review this.
"The gap to our competitors is closing, so it’s a tough weekend to walk away from but we’ll review the data and see what happened."
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After initially trying to fight after informing the team of feeling unwell, Logan eventually headed to the pits after a valiant effort.
He reflected on his time in Lusail, saying: "The main thing is Alex and I are both ok.
"I’ve been feeling unwell all week which didn’t help with the dehydration in this heat.
"The last thing I wanted to do was retire the car, but I had to put my health first. Sorry to the team for not being able to reach the finish line.
"They’ve done an incredible job all weekend in these intense conditions. I’ll be taking next week to fully recover and then bounce back in Austin which I’m really looking forward to."

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Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, gave his thoughts on a tricky and somewhat unique race with tyre limitations: "Despite the evening race, it was hot and humid, nonetheless.
"Racing in these conditions at this high-speed circuit is very physical for the drivers and led to them both ending the race dehydrated.
"Given the build-up to the race and our performance in the Sprint Race yesterday, we were probably expecting a little bit more today, but we were never quite able to find Alex the free air he needed to make really good progress.
"Being held-up by Hulkenberg early in the race after he started in the wrong grid position did not help us in this regard.
"Logan has driven very well all weekend and shown good pace, especially in the tricky conditions we had on Friday. It was a shame that we didn’t get to see his full pace today after he was forced to retire.
"We now look forward to the triple header, which begins in Austin before we move onto Mexico and Brazil."
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