It was a case of what might have been for Williams Racing in Mexico City’s Q1 and Q2 sessions, with both Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant suffering lap time deletions.
Alex’s best time was good enough for Q3, but an infraction at the Turn 2 apex means he ended today’s qualifying session in P14 after the stewards deleted his lap.
Logan suffered a similar fate in Q1, with additional problems impacting our American’s second flying run thanks to yellow flags waving in the wake of Fernando Alonso spinning.
These difficulties led to no time on the board for Sarge, who qualifies in P20, albeit with many rivals flagged up for post-race investigations in a busy afternoon for race control.
Our Saturday began far more positively, with Alex again reaching P2 in the day’s first Free Practice session and Logan ending the hour in P11.
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After coming so close to reaching another Q3, Alex was, understandably, frustrated at his P14 qualification.
Speaking straight after Qualifying, our Thai driver said:
“I don’t think it was track limits, however, I might be wrong. Based on the external view of the shot, it looked to me that my rear tyres were still on the white line, however, it is what it is.
“It’s really frustrating but what’s more frustrating is the lack of pace in Qualifying; I was four or five-tenths slower than I was in FP3, losing a lot of grip, so I almost had to do tyre management to keep the tyres alive into sector 3.
“It was the same from FP1 to FP2 and now FP3 to Quali, so we really need to look into it. We’ll look to tomorrow and see what we can do.”
Logan summarised his Saturday by saying, “Unfortunately, this afternoon went wrong for us,” before continuing to explain how it unfolded from his point of view:
“Going for that last lap everyone wanted to stop in the pit lane for about a minute and lose loads of tyre temp and then there was impeding on the lap and yellow flags.
“I never really had a fair chance to set a lap. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. We should’ve got into Q2 with a clean run.
“In hindsight, we needed to go early and get ahead of all that mess. It’s frustrating as we have a quick car this weekend but didn’t put a time on the board.
“The race pace wasn’t too bad yesterday, so we’ll try and move forward tomorrow”
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The change of grip between FP3 and Qualifying is something that Dave Robson, our Head of Vehicle Performance, detailed:
“Despite only minor changes to the conditions and the setup, we had a very different performance between the two sessions.
“The performance was strong in FP3 but in Qualifying both drivers struggled to find the same level of grip that they had exploited in FP3.
“Added to the difficulties at the pit exit, Qualifying was much more difficult than we had hoped.
“With both drivers having laps deleted for very fine track limit margins, 14th and 20th was the best we could do today. We need to understand what happened between FP3 and Qualifying.”
Nonetheless, Dave could still see positives ahead of tomorrow’s race, saying:
“Racing in Mexico is different to every other circuit that we visit and there is still a lot to play for tomorrow: car and tyre management will potentially dominate the day and provide numerous opportunities to race.
“We would like to have started higher up the grid, but we can still race hard tomorrow.”
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