Alex Albon sympathised with the crash that ended Logan Sargeant’s qualifying session in Japan, citing that he sustained “a snap every lap” at the same corner.
Sargeant was aiming to progress beyond Q1 on his maiden qualifying outing at Suzuka but ended up on the grass at the final corner and suffered a hefty impact with the barrier.
“Yeah, just lost the rear on the exit of the last corner, and just the grass creeps up on you quickly there, as it sort of comes back towards you,” he explained.
Despite propping up near the bottom of the timesheets throughout practice, the American believes the “hugely costly” error curtailed a “pretty good day up that point.”
Asked how he now resets ahead of the race, Sargeant said: “Just put it behind me, I think. What can you do? It’s over, it’s over with.
“I feel like it’s been a pretty good day up to that point. I feel I’ve been pretty quick. I was pretty much where I needed to be, just another small mistake, hugely costly.”
Although he had not seen the incident when speaking, Albon admitted that degrading tyres and a tailwind at the end of the lap almost caught him out on several occasions.
“I haven’t seen the crash, to be honest. It’s been really tough. I can’t explain to you how tricky our car is with a tailwind and high deg,” he contended. “The last corners will be really difficult. I’ve had a snap every lap through there.”
Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW45. 23.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Qualifying Day.
Albon was able to reach Q2 but was unable to advance any further, ending up 13th.
But having only been a tenth away from making the next stage, the Anglo-Thai driver believes another Q3 appearance might’ve been possible with cooler track conditions.
“Yeah, that was where we were,” Albon reflected. “Think we were running a little bit light on fuel load in FP2, that’s why you saw a bit of a good performance in FP2 [when he classified P7].
“But it’s tight up there. We knew it was going to be tight. If this track was 10 degrees cooler, I think we would be in Q3. I think we’ve been struggling quite a lot this weekend with… well, firstly how rough the Tarmac is, it’s a bit like sandpaper, but also just that fact that it’s hot around here.
“Similar to Singapore – a lot of overheating, treating the qualy lap almost like a race lap, you’re trying to manage the tyres in certain corners, which is not enjoyable to drive.
“But, yeah, it’s been tough all weekend and I think we did a good job in qualifying, I think we got the most out of it.”
Pressed on whether the wind had impacted Williams’ prospects, Albon responded: “Wind has been a factor, but it has been in the same direction the whole weekend. I think tomorrow is a 180 flip, which will be really interesting to see if the degradation gets worse or better. I’m hoping better.”
After seeing a points opportunity in Singapore squandered following contact with Sergio Perez, Albon is concerned that the predicted high track temperatures could damage his hopes of a top-10 finish.
“I think coming into this weekend, yeah, I would’ve said this was going to be one of our better circuits,” he said regarding Williams’ chances of points in Sunday’s race.
“I think the track temp has not really allowed use to use some of the performance in our car. And that will apply tomorrow. I think we’re going to have a lot of degradation. I think everyone does, but… yeah, let’s see.
“We did try to make some changes over Friday and Saturday to try to help the Sunday car, give up a little bit of performance today for tomorrow. That’s not to say tomorrow we’re going to cruise through the field. But I hope the deg is a bit less.”
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