Alexander Albon, Williams, Albert Park, 2022

Tenth an “unimaginable” result for Albon after strategist predicted 19th

2022 Australian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Alexander Albon described his first point for Williams as “completely unimaginable” after the team’s strategist predicted both cars would finish at the back.

The Williams driver ran 57 laps on the same set of hard tyres he started the race on before pitting on the final lap for soft tyres, rejoining ahead of Zhou Guanyu in tenth place and holding the Alfa Romeo off to take the final point.

Albon said that was a much better result than the team had expected. Their pre-race expectations were more pessimistic after Albon was sent to the back of the grid following his disqualification from qualifying.

“It was strange,” Albon said. “It always seems like that C2 tyre suits our car and there’s suiting a car and then there’s that – where it was almost like I felt like I was doing qualifying laps for the last 30 laps of the race. So it’s pretty special.

“I know for a fact we went into the race, the strategist tells you, ‘OK, this is our best performance, this is what we have to do to get the best outcome’ and it was 19th and 20th and it wasn’t pretty. It didn’t look great behind P18, either. And to come out P10 – it’s completely unimaginable. It’s a very special moment.”

Albon ran almost the entire race on the C2 hard compound tyres, which the team did not plan to do before the race. However as the race unfolded they realised it could work.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“I wasn’t asking [to come in] because I knew we were okay on pace,” Albon explained. “I knew that these VSCs and Safety Cars, they’re great times to pit. But we stayed out, we stayed out and then they just basically they said, in code, ‘can we go to the end?’. And I was like, ‘yeah, we can definitely go to the end’.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
“In my head, I’m basically doing the strategy. They’re telling me, I know my plan, I know how many laps I’m supposed to be doing and I was surprised we didn’t pit. They kept leaving me out, leaving me out, especially when we had Virtual Safety Cars.”

Albon eventually pitted on the final lap in order to satisfy the requirement to use two different tyre compounds. A slow tyre change meant he rejoined metres in front of Zhou, who was unable to pass the Williams out of turn one, and almost lost control of his Alfa Romeo through turn two.

“I didn’t know how tight it would be, coming out” said Albon. “We had kind of a slow front-left change and it made it quite close with Zhou.

“Today, as I said, we came in and we were like, ‘oh, we’re going to finish 19th and 20th – it’s just how far we’re going to be to P18’ and we’ve come in tenth. So anything can happen.”

“That’s twice this week we can’t do the numbers,” his race engineer James Urwin said on the radio after the race. “We need to have a go at Rich,” Albon joked, referring to the team’s head of race strategy Richard Lockwood.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 Australian Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 Australian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

32 comments on “Tenth an “unimaginable” result for Albon after strategist predicted 19th”

  1. Albon did a terrific job.

  2. Coventry Climax
    10th April 2022, 13:02

    Good for them. Just about the only highlight in an otherwise downright boring race.

  3. RandomMallard
    10th April 2022, 13:03

    Yeah Albon and Williams were excellent. Played a blinder on the strategy and reaped the rewards with a points finish.

  4. His pace was really good and consistent which allowed him to get into the position he was.

    Incredible job by both him and Williams.

  5. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    10th April 2022, 13:25

    So the Mercedes engine isn’t quite as bad as first thought?

    Well done Alex. Prize money in the pot for next year.

  6. Another good RB cast off

  7. If they had pitted him a lap earlier, maybe he could have gone also for the fastest. Anyway, really impresive job. It seems that on race pace he destroys Latifi more than Russell did.

    1. @cosan, I doubt about FLAP, but he might’ve lost out on P10 if he pitted a lap earlier.

      1. Depends if he had fresh soft tyres. He should have done as he only took part in Q1. His Q1 lap was 1’20.135, Leclerc’s fastest race lap was 1:20.260. Even if he came out behind Zhou a lap earlier he would have caught up by the last corner, got DRS + slipstream and overtaken into Turn 1 his traction would have been so much better. However they ertr just hoping for a late safety car / VSC to take a cheap stop.

        However him saying best outcome of 19th place is disingenuous (See also George “5th fastest car” Russell”). He was 16th fastest in Q1 before penalties ahead of Magnussen. Even on old hard tyres in the race he was faster than both Alpha Tauris, both Haas and both Aston Martins as well as his teammate and only just off the McLarens, Ocon and Zhou. Drivers saying this kind of thing might make themsleves sound good… but to what end, will saying that make themselves drive faster? No. However it comes off disrespectful towards their own team who designed and built the car as well as their competitors who they are basically saying drive more slowly in faster cars.

        On another note a couple of what ifs based on seeing Leclerc finishing the race with Albon in the foreground leaving the pits

        What if Albon had spun or lost time on lap 57 before pitting and been lapped by Leclerc (Or Leclerc just crossed the line on track before Albon crossed it in the pits). Would he have been disqualified or penalised for not taking his pitstop which cant be taken at the end of the race.

        What if Albon had crossed the line to start lap 58 then had a slow pitstop (stuck wheel etc) and emerged from the pits behind Leclerc on his victory lap. Would they close the pit exit? Would the pitstop then count or would he be disqualified / penalised.

        What if he’d had a 5 second penalty to serve (similar to Stroll and the above things happened?)

        1. Michael, the strategist told him the best they can do is P19 and P20, not Albon making the remark.

        2. @michael
          He indeed had a fresh set, so very possible since his PB Q1 time was slightly faster than the fastest race time.
          Overtaking Zhou is another matter & wouldn’t necessarily have been a given as Ocon, for instance, couldn’t pass Albon despite having a combined car+tyre advantage over him.
          The What-If notes are interesting & valid, something I also thought about a bit, but TBH, I can’t quite figure out what would’ve got done in such scenarios.
          Concerning the latter, since Williams locates before the timing line in Melbourne, he couldn’t have physically crossed it to start the final lap & subsequently have a slow pit stop dropping him off the lead lap.
          I guess FIA should enlighten just in case, as something along these possibilities could occur someday.

  8. Incredible job by Albon. Great lap times throughout.

    Good strategy by Williams in not blinking and bringing him in during the VSC. They took a risk and it paid off. L

    Honestly, I didn’t expect him to be as good as he has been on his comeback. If he keeps this form up, I wouldn’t him count out as a 3rd contender for the 2nd Red Bull seat alongside Pierre and Checo.

    1. @sumedhvidwans I somehow doubt as he’s effectively out anyway via being a fully-contracted Williams driver.

  9. Brilliant display by Alex and the Williams team and a well deserved point.

    Latifi that bad or Alex that good?

    1. @djarvis I reckon the former.
      Latifi is more familiar with the team, yet he still gets out qualified & outscored consistently.

  10. Was buzzing when I saw him come out in tenth, had one eye on Leclerc crossing the line and one on the race order graphic. Great long stint, little bit of fortune but deserved it.

  11. For me that was the most impressive drive of the day. He didn’t deserve the penalty from Jeddah and the disqualification was unfortunate, so coming from last to 10th after doing almost the whole race on one set of tyres in what is arguably one of the slowest cars on the grid was downright impressive. Very good drive.

  12. I initially thought he & Williams made an error by not pitting under VSC, but subsequent lap times & eventual outcome proved my suspicion wrong.

  13. Of course those SC’s would have help him keep up with the rest of the pack… His strategist would not have factored for the SC’s.

    1. Then it’s a very bad strategist.

  14. Impressive. I thought even at the last lap that he will be nowhere near the points.

    Would it been possible/allowed to finish the race in the pit lane? I mean by fitting a new tyre to comply with the rules, and then crossing the start/finish line?

    (I think about an effort like what Ferrari and Schumacher did at the 1998 British GP by trying to serve their penalty at the last lap.) Would such effort be still legal or the rules were updated after that?

    As I read Schumacher first crossed the start/finis line, and then served the penalty. (And anyway his penalty was rescinded later on. So a bit comparable, but not exactly.)
    As Williams, as a backmarker has a “late”/far garage position, likely Albon would have had crossed the line as well before changing the tyres, so I am quite uncertain about the legality of this.

    1. For changing tyre compounds, that is explicitly covered in the rules and that would not be legal.

      Article 30.5(c) of the sporting regulations states that “Tyres will only be deemed to have been used once the car’s timing transponder has shown that it has left the pit lane” – so, because you have to have left the pit lane for the tyres to count as having been used, you couldn’t finish the race in the pit lane.

      On the broader point of whether you can finish a race in the pit lane, we know in the past that Charlie Whiting did include text in the driver briefing notes that warned drivers that any driver who finished the race in the pit lane would be referred to the stewards. For a while, Masi chose to delete that warning from his notes, but he later reinstated that requirement into the driver briefings and the warning that any driver who finished the race by crossing the start/finish line in the pit lane would be referred to the stewards.

      The stewards would consider the context of the event – the indication is that drivers who entered the pit lane for a genuine reason, such as a damaged car, would not face any action from the stewards, but a driver who was seeking to gain an advantage from doing so probably would be penalised (particularly at venues – e.g. Silverstone – where a driver can gain time on the pit entry lane compared to somebody going through the final corners).

      It is therefore not explicitly stated that you cannot finish the race in the pit lane, but the implication is that any driver who was trying to gain a deliberate advantage by doing so would be penalised.

      1. Thanks for the detailed answer. 👍

    2. @Jockey Ewing Williams garage is actually towards the pit entry in Melbourne as the order is reversed previous-season WDC (same in Montreal & Suzuka) for some mysterious reason, so the other way round, i.e., he crossed the timing line post-pit stop rather than before.

      1. Thanks. I thought the order of the garages is the same everywhere (so non-reversed based on the results of the previous season). It is mysterious to me as well. But I am not the man of details. Actually I am capable of missing out on noticing fairly large things what I am seeing frequently for a longer while :)

  15. There were some fortunate circumstances – Stroll holding up a bunch of cars, Verstappen’s retirement, etc – but Albon handled it well. It took me up until 2-3 laps until the end to realise it was actually possible! He’s a great boon for the team.

    1. Yes, I was wondering what on earth Williams were playing at – I thought it was just a failed gamble on a late safety car. Wonder if they’ll try it again, another race when the C2 tyres are available.

      I guess by holding up Zhou and the other guys, Lance Stroll actually achieved something useful on his long trip to Australia, for the benefit of his old team.

  16. Sergey Martyn
    10th April 2022, 16:37

    Albon finished P10 after that crazy 57 laps hard tyres stint, oh my, he IS the driver of the day!

  17. It’s a great result for Williams.

  18. Great race by Albon. Running the entire race on one set of tires and still setting PBs right to the end. He was holding pace with Ricciardo and Ocon, who I think was nursing a problem, but still a great result. I really didn’t expect points for them today but they earned it.

  19. Yes, great race, didn’t expect him to get into the points, and unlike alonso (and like magnussen) he had nothing to lose by staying out and waiting to see if he got a chance to get into the points with a VSC, since the williams is otherwise incapable of scoring.

  20. I think a lot of teams will be looking at this strategy of running the hard tire for the duration minus one lap. He was clearly still quick at the end of the race and just stuck the softs on for one lap. I’m sure he surprised a few people (me included) when he came out in P10. Great drive by Albon – another driver showing just how poor Latifi is on pace.

Comments are closed.