Albon insists Williams 'better than expected' in Mexico


Williams' Alex Albon enjoyed a strong day on the track in Mexico City on Friday, and was encouraged by the team's "better than expected" practice session lap times going into Sunday's Grand Prix at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

Albon was second fastest in FP1 and just 0.095s behind the benchmark top time set by Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

He was also at the top of the timesheets early in the later second session, but having completed his flying laps earlier than his rivals he slipped down the order over the remainder of FP2 and ended up just 14th.

Afterwards, he explained that this didn't represent a setback or suggest that they had gone in the wrong direction, and things were still looking encouraging for qualifying and the race.

"I don’t think we were slow in the FP2, but we obviously had a good run in the first session," he said.

"We were better than expected but I think we just hit the ground running and optimised the window from the first lap, whereas other teams potentially took a bit longer to get up to speed."

Albon started second practice on a set of test tyres provided by Pirelli, before making an early switch to a set of softs for his qualifying laps.

"We were quick on the test tyre but my lap on the softs wasn’t very good," he admitted. "This is a circuit that doesn’t feel great for anyone with the low downforce; you feel like you’re sliding around a lot.

"However comparing year on year, it’s a big step," he pointed out. "So let’s see how we go tomorrow. I don’t think we’re top 5 or top 10 but I do think we’ll be in a position to fight for Q3 tomorrow."

Dave Robson, head of vehicle performance at Williams, added: "We had a very productive day and were able to test numerous options before the rain started in FP2.

"Our pace was very strong in FP1 with Alex immediately happy with the car balance. Whilst this was great to see, we fully expected the others to catch-up during FP2.

"Although our position on the timesheet looks less impressive this afternoon, we are still in a good position to secure a strong result tomorrow with a car that should also be competitive on Sunday.

"With rain threatening the final third of FP2, we opted to run the new Soft tyre quite early in the session so that we could concentrate on the all-important high fuel running.

"Getting the power unit and brake cooling correct for this [very high altitude] circuit is a challenge but we collected some good data and will be in a good position for the Grand Prix."

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