Alex Albon, Williams, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022

Four-stopping Albon “couldn’t drive slow enough” to ease high tyre degradation

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Williams’ tyre degradation was so severe that Alexander Albon had to make four pit stops and thinks it would have been quicker to do five.

In brief

Five-stopper would have been quicker – Albon

Alexander Albon said he suffered from serious tyre degradation after finishing the Spanish Grand Prix last, two laps down from the race leaders.

His tyres felt “really strange”, said Albon, after pitting four times. “On the laps to the grid I was already getting tyre deg and it was the same in the race,” Albon explained. “We did a four-stop but I could have done a five or six stop and it probably would have been quicker.

“There was just incredible degradation, I think I was 20kph slower than everyone else in turn three and turn nine, just struggling out there. We’re not normally that bad. I think there is something we just need to check because that wasn’t normal.”

Albon said he “couldn’t drive slow enough” to keep his tyres alive. “I was driving as slow as I could and the tyres were still going off. And not like a little bit, I was driving my first three laps two and a half, three seconds slower than I would normally and then it was still degrading massively. It was seconds [lost], straightaway after the first lap.

“So it was a bit strange. As I said, it’s not normal. The deg was high and we expected that but today was indeed a bit strange.”

Spanish Grand Prix “one of the hardest races I’ve ever done” for ill Norris

(L to R): Max Verstappen, Red Bull; George Russell, Mercedes; Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Spanish Grand Prix in pictures
Lando Norris drove the Spanish Grand Prix after being extremely unwell all weekend in Barcelona, diagnosed with tonsillitis by McLaren team doctors after the race.

The McLaren driver said it had been one of the most difficult races he had ever competed in. “Today was tough. I was feeling really unwell before the race as I’m suffering with tonsillitis, and that, in combination with the high temperatures, made this one of the hardest races I’ve ever done.

“I’ve been a bit on the backfoot this weekend as most of my energy has been spent fighting off this illness,” admitted Norris, who missed the Spanish and Catalonian national anthems due to his condition on the grid. “I’ve had to miss a lot of engineering sessions, which has compromised my weekend, and I definitely wasn’t as prepared for the Grand Prix as I could have been.

“With that in mind,” Norris said, on his eighth-place finish, “I’m really pleased to have come out of the race with decent points for the team.”

Update-less AlphaTauri scoring a point shows competitiveness

AlphaTauri had a difficult weekend in Barcelona, after choosing not to bring an upgrade package yet. However, Yuki Tsunoda was able to score a point for the team with a tenth-place finish, which he said after the race showed how competitive the Red Bull sister team’s car can be.

“I think a lot of the teams increased performance from the new packages I can see,” reflected Tsunoda. “So I think we still can be happy scoring points in that situation.

“But obviously we need to improve the car to be able to fight consistently in a top P7, P6,” he continued. “In the end, those points are what is needed for the team to be P5 in the team championship. So currently it’s a very difficult situation, but at the same time, each point in each race race will count as well. We’ll see next race.”

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Two Formula 2 teams fined for incorrect pit stop procedure

MP Motorsport and ART Grand Prix were fined for breaches of Formula 2 pit stop procedure during the Barcelona feature race. MP Motorsport was first informed of a pit stop infraction and encouraged eventual winner driver Felipe Drugovich to pull out a gap of more than five seconds over Jack Doohan in order to compensate for any potential penalty.

The teams transgressed by failing to lie tyres removed from the car flat on their side in the pit lane before moving on to the next tyre to be worked on. F2 prohibits tyres being left in any other way, to prevent them rolling into the path of cars.

MP was issued a €1,000 (£845) fine for the infraction. ART was found to have committed the offence in both its pit stops, for Théo Pourchaire and Frederick Vesti, so was issued two fines and both drivers now carry the risk of a suspended five-place grid drop for the rest of the season if the team commits the offence again.

Post-race penalties for three Formula 3 drivers

After the Formula 3 feature race in Barcelona, Arthur Leclerc was issued a five-second penalty for erratic driving while attacking Juan-Manuel Correa on the main straight of the circuit, driving onto the grass near the exit of the pit lane before overtaking Correa into turn one. Leclerc appeared to give the place back to Correa later in the lap but was still issued the post-race penalty which moved him from a 14th to 16th-place finish.

Ido Cohen was found at fault for contact with Kush Maini that saw Cohen go off-track, into gravel. He too was given a five-second penalty for erratic driving. Enzo Trulli, who ended the race of Carlin team mate Brad Benavides, was found at fault for the incident despite a brake issue on his car and was also issued a five-second time penalty for causing a collision.

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Comment of the day

After Leclerc’s retirement from the Spanish Grand Prix, Tifoso1989 says that Ferrari has to capitalise on next weekend in Monaco to claw back psychological ground lost to Red Bull in Barcelona.

Max’s retirements came when he was running second, in tracks where Ferrari held the upper hand pace wise. Leclerc retired from the lead, handing the win to Verstappen in a track that suited Ferrari more than Red Bull and even in race conditions Leclerc was fast enough to keep him behind with non tyre degradation issues.

Technically speaking Max has lost more points but psychologically Leclerc and Ferrari got a big blow from Red Bull today. A knockdown that certainly won’t be easy to compensate on the scorecards in the end of the season.

Leclerc raced Verstappen wisely in Miami, where Ferrari was on the back foot in terms of tyre degradation but he has been pushing since the start of the season. The error in Imola and his pole yesterday after the spin are a testament of his attacking style.

He and Ferrari need to deliver in Monaco, in a circuit that is theoretically suited to them, otherwise Red Bull and Max will take the psychological advantage over them and they will be extremely hard to beat in the rest of the season.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Emmet!

On this day in motorsport

Riccardo Patrese won a wild finish to the Monaco Grand Prix today in 1982
  • 40 years ago today Riccardo Patrese scored his first victory in a remarkable finish to the Monaco Grand Prix in which leaders Alain Prost and Didier Pironi retired

Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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14 comments on “Four-stopping Albon “couldn’t drive slow enough” to ease high tyre degradation”

  1. I wondered what happened to Albon. Unless I missed it nothing much was said during the race but he seemed so far back.

    Also, does anyone know why Ricciardo was so much off the pace of Norris? I know one might say he always is, but the car just looked slower regardless.

    1. Yeh I’m increasingly feeling like we’re seeing the final races of Ricciardo’s career. A wounded Norris was still miles ahead… it pains me to say I wouldn’t be surprised to see him ditched mid-season… Such a shame really. Arguably a mega talent who lost out to the Mercedes era and surely past his prime now.

    2. Zak Brown is not Dr. Marko, Zak will eat the losses to show of loyalty to his driver despite the hit the team takes

      …oh, the question wasnt “Why does Ricciardo still have a race seat ?” My bad

    3. @cairnsfella I was also baffled by Albon’s slowness & specifically from the moment he got passed by Latifi (a move that never got shown on the world feed among some others further down the field) & started to drop back lap by lap.
      I was sure he had an issue as I couldn’t think of any other way for him to be slower than his usually slower teammate, but I got proved wrong.
      On Ricciardo, weird & @tommy-c, I doubt he’d get ditched during the season, although post-season could be another matter at this rate despite him being under contract until 2023-end.
      I’m sure he’ll get to see out his contract stint anyway. However, things can change quickly in F1.

  2. Always appreciate seeing a Gordon Murray era Brabham in the round-up. :)

    1. + 1. I remember that 1982 race. One of the first remember. It was very dramatic and exciting.

  3. Agree with COTD. For me, this Leclerc / Ferrari set back couldn’t have come at a worse time, as now we move onto Monaco, a place where Leclerc has never had a problem free weekend, even prior to F1. I think the pressure of racing at home, given how few Monegasque drivers there have ever been is just so high for him. Add on the context of this season the championship and the retirement in Spain, sadly I can see another Max P1, Leclerc DNF.

    1. @eurobrun
      But the opposite could also be true. If Leclerc manages to extract the performance from the car and win Monaco, he would have defeated the ghosts of the past, regained the lead in the championship and manage to defeat extreme pressure. That would surely be a massive boost for the rest of his championship (…/his career)

      1. Oh how I hope that will be the case! You have more faith and confidence than me

  4. So high tyre deg explains how he got overtaken by his usually slower teammate at one point & immediately started to drop back from him.
    I thought he had an issue, so assumed he’d retire each time he entered the pit lane, but ultimately everything was merely down to unusually high deg for him.

    Norris did well considering his situation.

    So Haas wasn’t the only update-less team.
    Nevertheless, this explains AT’s scarce pace relative to surrounding midfield teams.

    COTD is spot-on, I couldn’t agree more.

  5. I’ve never driven an F1 car, but I have had tonsillitis, he’s done incredibly, it must have been absolute agony. If he was only diagnosed this weekend, depending on how he has got it, there is no guarantee he’ll be in Monaco. *I think Pato & Colton are doing other stuff next weekend, so no exciting cameos.

    Daniel really seems to be struggling and other than Monza last year, he has been for a while. He’s obviously very popular, and a great addition to the grid, but getting beaten regularly by your much more inexperienced (decade younger) tonsillitis boasting teammate isn’t a good look.

    I also doubt Daniel is cheap, we’ve learnt in the last few years McLaren has more ambition than cash. I don’t know how long Daniel’s contract is, or what Colton or Pato’s super license situation is, but with F1 and Zak eyeballing the US, Daniel might be struggling for a drive sooner rather than later.

    Which is a pity, because outside the car he still brings a lot. It’s just in the car he isn’t at the races right now.

  6. Williams are exploring the full range of strategies this year! Almost the classic seven-stop race from Donington: “Box this lap, Alain: fresh set of wrong tyres.” Hopefully there’ll be back to something like the late-stopping Melbourne strategy this weekend. That sort of thing can work really well at Monaco.

  7. Euroformula at the moment is a great watch. It may be a minor series and with only 12 cars, but it has a few very capable drivers but the absolute star is Ollie Goethe – surely a lad with a bright future ahead. He does have a decent challenge in the shape of Christian Mansell, and there are a few others that jostle for position on occasion before, typically, finding that they can’t keep up the pace. But Goethe’s wins from various positions on the grid have combined incomparable pace with excellent overtakes (especially needed in the early races where he often fluffed up his starts). Mansell’s overtakes have also been gutsy and well judged, and last weekend’s races ended with the showdown(s) we’ve been waiting for.
    What’s more (apologies, incoming rant) Euroformula races are free to view on YouTube in their entirety (live if you want), which sadly can’t be said for things like W-Series or British Formula 4 (which I didn’t even think existed any more owing to GB4 – apparently it does, but if I can’t watch more than miniature highlights why would I bother?). It’s beyond me why such series don’t make the whole thing live, they are up against competition that means their highlights have very little appeal – just compare the British F4’s views two weeks ago (600-1200) with those for GB3/4 the same weekend (6000-7000).
    Anyway back to Euroformula, I’m looking forward to seeing how they get on at Spa. They certainly made Paul Ricard look interesting, so fingers crossed they can do the same at a truly great track.

  8. Thanks for the COTD !

Comments are closed.