‘Tell Logan to be careful, I’m going to crash’: How brake failure alarmed Albon

2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Alexander Albon was so alarmed by his brake failure during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix he urged his Williams to warn his team mate.

The Williams driver started 17th and ran as high as ninth during last weekend’s race in Jeddah but only completed half of the race before he retired in the pits due to the severity of his braking problem.

When it became apparent while out on track that he had lost significant braking function, Albon radioed his team in a panic.

“Brake failure,” he said after going through the heavy braking zone of the final corner of the lap. The team scrambled to investigate the problem, Albon urging them “quick, give me an answer before I brake” as he then approached the similarly heavy braking zone of turn one.

The team replied as Albon made it to the corner, which he navigated safely. “Tell Logan to be careful, Jesus Christ,” he exclaimed. It appears Williams did not relay a warning to Sargeant, who was running behind Albon and was able to see the difficulty he was in.

Albon’s engineer James Urwin replied to Albon later around the lap saying the team was “trying to get you some info for a reset”.

“Quick, quick, I’m going to crash,” was Albon’s response as he went into the turn 13 hairpin, a quick corner which due to its camber requires little braking effort.

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A potential solution was then communicated to Albon, based around making several dial changes on the steering wheel. However he found he was unable to make one of the adjustments the team communicated.

Williams reassured Albon his crew would take care
Albon cut across turn 22, then was passed by Sargeant and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu going into the final corner. Several more cars passed as he coasted to turn one, lowering his entry speed and cutting straight across the corner as he did not want to risk a crash. He also cut several other corners before pitting at the end of the lap.

The team reassured Albon his pit crew would take extra care as he arrived in his box to retire. They performed several brake tests of the front wheels after jacking up the car, before determining Albon’s race was over and wheeling him into the garage.

Sargeant’s radio communication with Williams through the race showed no sign of similar problems, although he twice said that the FW45 was “too nervous in high-speed” areas of the circuit.

On the lap he passed his team mate, Sargeant asked how Albon was doing as he watched him cut corners ahead of him, and his engineer Gaetan Jego could only say that there was a “potential issue” with Albon’s car.

Two minutes later Sargeant asked “why do I feel like I have a lot of engine braking?”, but did not get a detailed response to that question either.

After the race Williams head of vehicle performance Dave Robson confirmed it was an “issue in the mechanical brake system” on Albon’s car, which would suggest it was not related to the electronic brake-by-wire system.

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Williams drivers’ radio messages after Albon’s brake failure

Lap: 26/50
Albon Brake failure. What’s going on with the [unclear] ground. Quick, quick, give me an answer before I brake. Sargeant [Unclear] Alex doing?
Albon Oh my God, brake failure. Jesus Christ, man. Jego Potential issue, I’ll confirm.
Albon Tell Logan to be careful, Jesus.
Urwin Trying to get you some info for a reset.
Albon Quick, quick, I’m going to crash.
Urwin Three default one one okay. Double okay. Three. Default. One. One. Okay, Okay.
Albon Guys, there is no ‘one’.
Urwin Okay. Everyone’s aware. There’s plenty of space in front of the box.
Lap: 27/50
Jego So let’s look ahead. Look at the Haas. They are on old primes, we catch them.
Sargeant Why do I feel like I have a lot of engine braking?
Jego Stand by.

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2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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6 comments on “‘Tell Logan to be careful, I’m going to crash’: How brake failure alarmed Albon”

  1. I honestly still don’t get why he didn’t pit on the first available opportunity, even though brake failure isn’t something that fixes itself/goes away by driving around slowly.
    Risking something going wrong by pointlessly continuing on track, even slowly, without functioning brakes is irresponsible, so pitting on the first available opportunity should be a clear-cut choice for all drivers when retirement is inevitable anyway.
    Not his first arbitrary decision-making, considering he ignored blue flags in Monaco just because he didn’t bother heeding them, even though choosing how to behave under yield requirements isn’t up to drivers’ discretion.

    1. @jerejj Well he got away with Monaco, probably thinks he did the right thing even now. Also, Leclerc isn’t the kind of guy to rail his online buddy for this.

      1. @wsrgo True, but that was because stewards didn’t bother penalizing him (nor Latifi) for a clear-cut blue flag breach.

  2. Bit disturbing how blasé Williams were about the lack of brakes on a high-speed circuit with close walls.

  3. I think the reason he did not come in immediately was that they thought a reset was possible to get the brakes working again…

    1. @dutchtreat Reset is always impossible with a clear-cut brake failure.

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