Albon ‘surprised’ to be quicker than Alonso at end of British GP

2023 British Grand Prix

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Alexander Albon’s eighth place in the British Grand Prix for Williams may not have been as spectacular as the results McLaren achieved at home but it had a bigger impact, as it lifted Williams two places in the constructors’ standings to seventh.

It was the team’s best result on home soil since 2015. Albon said he expected Silverstone would suit their recently updated FW45, but finishing all three practice sessions in the top three left him hoping for even more.

“It’s almost like you’ve finished qualifying somehow disappointed with P8, but we have to be realistic,” he said on Saturday after his third successive Q3 appearance. “We’ve been on top of it early in the weekend. I’ve also just been in the rhythm very quickly this weekend as well, getting well adapted to the wind changes and all this kind of thing.

“I felt like we hit the ground running and as the weekend’s gone along everyone’s kind of caught up, basically by Q3. I’m sure there was a little bit of sandbagging from other teams as well.

“We ended up kind of where we expected to be, after Friday at least. But it’s still an amazing result, and if you told us this before the weekend started, we were looking at around P15.”

Qualifying proved extra challenging as it was affected by rain, which dried out during the session. That induced some tyre degradation for Albon: “Front deg, as well, which is quite rare.”

As a result he felt the car was capable of getting even closer to pole position than his eventual 0.8-second deficit. He found he was struggling “quite a lot in sector two and three in the high-speed corners with the front tyre falling away.”

The team will study where it could have gained more in qualifying, said Albon. “There’s almost a bit that we understand and a bit that we don’t. We need to kind of reverse-engineer. It’s important to understand why you’re slow, but it’s also important to understand why you’re fast.”

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Albon brought his car home in the same position he started, thanks in part to the time of the Safety Car period. He took the chequered flag behind Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin with the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr filling his mirrors.

The team “expected the race to be a bit more difficult” after qualifying, said Albon, due to the threat from Alonso and Sergio Perez starting behind them. However despite a tricky start, he brought the car home for the team’s third points haul of the year, all of which he has delivered.

That was despite Albon losing two positions on the first lap. “I struggled a little bit at the start,” he admitted, indicating fluid which had been cleaned up following an earlier support race had contributed to his poor getaway. “There was a bit of cement from the Porsches, I don’t know if that was the reason why, but I didn’t have much grip at the start and then once I was in the rhythm of the race, we were okay.”

After running a long first stint and resisting the temptation to pit early on, Albon was able to take advantage of the disruption caused by Kevin Magnussen’s retirement.

“We were actually feeling quite good with the car, and I have to say that Safety Car came out at a perfect, perfect time,” he said.

Albon took his starting set of tyres to lap 32, when he pitted from sixth place after the race was then neutralised. He resumed in ninth rather than 11th – where he had been prior to the pit stop phase beginning.

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With fresher tyres, Albon knew he had an opportunity to attack the Ferrari ahead. “I was kind of licking my lips a little bit,” he said. “The Ferraris were on the harder compounds, I was able to get past Carlos.”

He then found himself in the complicated position of trying to pass one car ahead while coming under attack from another behind him. “I had better pace than Fernando, which was a bit of a surprise, but then Charles was coming quite quickly at the end.

“So it was a race of forwards and backwards, one eye forward, one eye back, and it became a bit of a dogfight. I wouldn’t have wanted that race to last one more lap.”

Alonso, Albon and Leclerc crossed the line in that order, with less than a second and a half covering the trio. “I think if it was one lap [longer], Charles would have got past,” said Albon. “If it was two laps, Charles would have got past both of us and I would have got past Fernando. That’s my theory.”

Albon’s result continued a strong run for the team in recent races. He took a seventh place finish in Montreal, was one place out of the points after the Red Bull Ring penalty-fest and eighth at Silverstone.

But despite the gains the team has made Albon expects the car’s performance to fluctuate sharply between different types of track, and especially across the downforce range.

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“I think our highs and lows are quite easy to predict,” he said. “I don’t know if McLaren could have predicted their pace this weekend, but I think we can.

“It’s quite clear that tracks where there’s a bit lower downforce and a lot of full throttle time, that’s all us, that’s how we like it. It’s also important that the track remains quite cool. [On Sunday] the track temperature was dropping at the end of the race, which made us a bit more competitive. Also, not much braking [over a lap]. The less braking, the better for us. So Silverstone works out quite well for that.”

Next up is the Hungaroring, a twisty low-speed track where Albon says Williams is not expecting to trouble the points-scorers.

“We’re still going to have our good circuits and our bad circuits. Spa-Francorchamps, Monza is still our focus.”

Williams have finished four of the last five seasons last in the standings, a place they still occupied at the beginning of last month. Their recent gains have given Albon cause to believe they can end the season in a much stronger position.

“We’re now P7 in the constructors’ championship, tied with Haas. So we are in a very good place.

“The points aren’t always available, and in the few races where we can score points this year coming up, we’re going to have to make sure we capitalise to stay seventh.”

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2023 British 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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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4 comments on “Albon ‘surprised’ to be quicker than Alonso at end of British GP”

  1. Coventry Climax
    14th July 2023, 9:34

    Nice. Realistic.

    One thing; article’s subtitle:

    at the end of the British Grand Prix, as he [led?] the Ferrari’s home and chased Fernando Alonso.

    1. Tommy Scragend
      14th July 2023, 10:21

      No need for the apostrophe either. Silverstone isn’t the home of the Ferrari.

      1. Coventry Climax
        14th July 2023, 11:23

        Ha, missed that! But my excuse is I’m not an english native speaker!

  2. So was I.

Comments are closed.