Alex Albon qualified 17th and Nicholas Latifi 19th for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Alex posted his fastest time on the final lap of the session, a 1:30.492 on the soft Pirelli tyre
Nicholas set his fastest time on his first flying lap of Q1, before losing the car on the entry of Turn 13 on his second push lap, thus ending his qualifying session
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: We made some progress overnight with the setup and used the running in FP3 to determine the best run plan for Qualifying. Unfortunately, Nicholas touched the wall at the end of FP3 causing some minor damage to the front wing, which meant that he missed the grid start at the end of the session. Alex had a smoother session and confirmed that he was reasonably happy with the car.
As we typically see on street circuits, qualifying can be very busy with a range of approaches to tyres and a constant risk of flag interruptions. With the lap being so long here in Jeddah, the run plans get squeezed and there is little slack. We had a programme to get both drivers a good shot at the tyre preparation, but this went awry when Nicholas crashed at T13 causing a red flag. We will need to inspect the damage tonight and understand what needs replacing before the race tomorrow. We moved Alex to a backup strategy and again gave him an opportunity to prepare the tyres, which was getting more difficult in the cooler conditions. He pushed hard and had a clean lap, but we were lacking the pace and the tyre grip to progress. We will now look to tomorrow and see if we can make some places as this is likely to be a race of attrition.
Alex Albon: It was a tricky day. I felt we were capable of getting to Q2, but getting the tyres to work, especially at night-time when the temperature drops, becomes a little more difficult. We don’t have a bad car, but the tyres are very sensitive and we just missed the operating window. We have a bit of work to do but otherwise, in the race we should have good pace, so we can be positive on that side. Overtaking is going to be tricky but hopefully we have a pace advantage.
Nicholas Latifi: It just seemed like I lost the rear under braking into Turn 13, so we need to look at the data to understand exactly why as it was the first time I became rear limited in that corner all weekend. It caught me by surprise quite a bit. I feel really sorry for the team because it was a costly mistake. It’s difficult to say at the moment about tomorrow; the car is feeling a bit better than it did in Bahrain, but we still have a lot of work to do. It will be a long race so we just have to be there.