There was to be no repeat of the points finish from Round 1 at the second stop on the 2023 calendar as Logan Sargeant crossed the line in P16 after Alex Albon was forced to retire on Lap 28.
It was a clean start to the 50-lap race in Jeddah, with both of our drivers gaining a position at the end of the opening tour after Oscar Piastri picked up damage.
Sarge was soon on the move again, passing Nyck De Vries before Lando Norris became the second McLaren to pit, putting our pair in P16 and P17 after Lap 2.
Albono began to engage in a battle with Valtteri Bottas and made his move stick on Lap 8, lunging one up the inside of Turn 1 having been pushed right up to the pit wall.
Both were going well in the first half of the Grand Prix, with Alex able to extend his opening stint on the medium compound tyre and Logan going well on the white-walled hards.
The Safety Car was deployed on Lap 18 to allow for the retrieval of Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin, giving both Williams drivers the chance for a cheaper pit stop, with a loss of just nine seconds in neutralised conditions.
We were back racing on Lap 21 and Alex would lose a position whilst Logan would gain one, putting the pair P13 and P14 respectively.
Whilst battling with Nico Hülkenberg, Alex reported a brake issue towards the end of Lap 26 which ultimately forced him to retire from the Grand Prix two laps later.
Our sole remaining car in the fight soon began to hassle Hülkenberg himself, but his attention would turn from attack to defensive in the closing stages of the race.
Despite putting up a resolute fight, Logan would be passed by Zhou Guanyu, Nyck De Vries and Oscar Piastri, but kept Lando Norris behind to cross the line on the lead lap in P16.
“Today I struggled a bit more than yesterday,” Logan shared post-race.
“The first 30 laps or so were pretty good and then I just struggled there at the end to keep a hold of the tyres, we were losing a lot of grip.
“Nevertheless, we made it through another one and learned a lot. I definitely feel more confident ahead of the next race.
“I showed this weekend that on a difficult track, I can be really quick, so I can take that going into Melbourne and hopefully replicate and keep improving.
“Over the past two races, I’ve learned an enormous amount; I feel like everything is becoming more natural and I’m trying to get things to become second nature and keep implementing them.
“It’s not going to happen all at once, it’s more a case of constantly building and understanding better.”
Alex reflected on a difficult evening in Jeddah by adding: “It was a frustrating day, as this weekend we felt really strong as a team and I’ve been really impressed with where the car is compared to where we were last year.
“It’s been such a pleasure getting to drive the car and unfortunately when it mattered in qualifying, we couldn’t quite execute, followed by the issue in the race, so it’s frustrating as we could have scored points this weekend.
“I’d much rather be disappointed, knowing the car has got pace than just finishing at the back, so it’s a different kind of disappointment with lots of positives and the opportunity to turn it around and come back fighting.”
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As always, Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, was watching on from the pit wall and concluded our reaction by stating there’s plenty to take away from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend.
“The pace was good today and Alex had a good chance of finishing in the top 10,” Dave said.
“Unfortunately, he was forced to retire with an issue in the mechanical brake system, which we will investigate and fix before the next race.
“This is a shame as a lot of good work was done here and in Grove on Friday evening to prepare the cars for the race.
“Logan’s race was compromised by the Safety Car, which left him with a lengthy stint on the Medium tyre and a defensive race against a close group of cars. He eventually lost a few places to faster cars but gave a good performance in his 2nd Formula 1 race.
“We can take a lot of positives away from this weekend but at the same time we missed a good opportunity to score some more points and we must make some improvements to succeed in a very tight midfield.”
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