Albon ‘in a good place’ for Qatar GP after surprising sprint pace

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Alex Albon believes Williams “is in a good place” for this evening’s Qatar Grand Prix after his surprisingly good performance in Saturday’s sprint event.

From P17 on the grid, Albon battled his way up to eighth position in the 19-lap event before he was classified P7 following Charles Leclerc’s track limit penalty and subsequent demotion.

The Anglo-Thai racer had qualified poorly for the evening sprint after struggling with grip and with the balance of his FW45.

But in the evening’s cooler and calmer sprint session, his Williams car “became alive”, while a medium tyre strategy and a bit of luck also opened the door to a productive result.

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“A bit of carnage, which always helps, a good strategy and a good pace, actually,” Albon said as he summed up his evening.

"We took a gamble with set-up, and we made it work. We capitalised on everyone’s difficulties today and this resulted in a point, which is now two points following Charles’ penalty, so I’m very happy!

“The wind dropped massively today in the race – the first time it’s done it all weekend – and the car became alive. So the grip I had felt equal to all the top cars around me, if not quicker.”

Albon will start Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix from P14 on the grid, just behind the Red Bull of Sergio Perez. The Williams charger feels that he can put a good result on the board, if conditions are similar to Saturday evening.

“A bit of a surprise and something we actually need to understand a bit why, but it puts us in a good place for tomorrow,” he said, commenting on his car’s unexpected pace.

“We’re going to be in a good place for tomorrow, as long as the wind is low like it was in the Sprint, which it looks to be.”

In the wake of the safety concerns regarding Pirelli’s tyres, the FIA could mandate a three-stop race. Should that be the case, Williams will approach the event with an adequate inventory of tyres.

“Incredibly, it’s only Saturday evening and there is a lot more of this Qatar event still to unfold,” commented Dave Robson, Williams’ head of vehicle performance.

“With some concerns over the tyre behaviour on the kerbs, there may yet be some additional restrictions that we will need to follow tomorrow.

“We have a good compliment of tyres available to both drivers and we are expecting benign conditions like we enjoyed this evening. Both drivers will be looking to make places and fight for points.”

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