The grid is set and the cars are in Parc Ferme for the São Paulo Grand Prix, with Alex Albon set to start from P13 and Logan Sargeant from P19 on Sunday.
As with all Sprint weekends this season, getting as much running in during FP1 is key for the entire weekend, and aside from a slight issue at the start of Logan’s Quali sim, it was a fruitful hour that saw us notch up 58 laps.
Onto Quali and with a dark cloud threatening the venue, there was plenty of early action in Q1. After two push laps, both cars were in the drop zone with Logan slightly ahead of Alex.
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On their final pushes, Alex banged in a lap good enough for P10 and Logan was also on course to make a big jump, but a small error at T10 cost him and he was out in P19, joined by both AlphaTauris and Alfa Romeos.
In Q2, Alex sat in P13 after his first effort and marginally improved on his second attempt, but a track limits violation at T4 dropped him down to P15.
However, post-session penalties have seen Alex climb up the order to P13 for Sunday’s start.
How we qualified before penalties are applied on Sunday
“My Q1 lap was very good but I think as a team, we know we’re struggling, as it’s so easy to overheat the tyres,” Alex reacted.
“Corner after corner there’s no way for the tyres to rest, so as soon as you do one corner quickly, you lose it on the next as a result of overheating.
“There’s a lot to learn and Sunday is going to be a big management race with the tyres not enjoying this kind of circuit.
“We’ve saved a set of Softs, so hopefully that will help us tomorrow.”
Logan is largely happy after his first full day on track at this venue but was left to rue his final push error.
“I felt like I was driving well and we had the car in a pretty good place today,” Sarge commented.
“I had the pace in Qualifying but I made a little mistake in turn 10 on the last lap, which cost us Q2. I’m disappointed but there are positives to take out of today.
“We haven’t been the quickest as a team here, so it’s not easy - those small mistakes put you straight out - but we’ll work to do better tomorrow.”
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Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, reflected on a busy day in Brazil by sharing: “Interlagos showed all its trickiness today with low grip in FP1 and a constant threat of rain during Qualifying, which eventually saw a very heavy shower start during Q3.
“The track grip will evolve quickly if there is no more rain during Saturday and Sunday, which makes it difficult to judge the correct setup to take into Parc Ferme.
“All teams are of course in the same position and it will be very interesting to see how the remainder of the event plays out.
“We struggled in FP1, both drivers feeling that the track offered very low grip and that the middle sector exposed many of the weaknesses inherent in FW45.
“Fortunately, we were able to make some improvements to the car before Qualifying and we did a decent job of the tyre preparation and traffic management, allowing us to compete in Q1.
“Logan drove well throughout Q1 but a small mistake on his final lap proved costly. Alex completed an excellent lap at the end of Q1 to qualify easily for Q2.
“He pushed extremely hard on this final Q2 lap but exceeded the track limits at T4.
“We didn’t have the pace to qualify for Q3 today, but Alex has out-qualified our closest Championship rivals, which sets us up for a productive Grand Prix on Sunday.
“Logan is also in the mix with our key competitors and, having shown strong race pace at recent events, is well placed to have a fruitful race.
“Our attention now turns to the self-contained sprint that takes place tomorrow. Although the car is in Parc Ferme, there are still opportunities to optimise the car via the electronic setup and tyre preparation.”
The prediction window for this Grand Prix has now closed.