Albon unhappy over 'really frustrating' deleted lap

Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW45. 28.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images
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Alex Albon thought he'd managed to make it through to the final top ten pole shoot-out round of qualifying for the Mexican GP, only to have his crucial final lap time deleted for exceeding track limits.

Albon was deemed to have cut the apex of turn 2, meaning that the lap time that he thought had put him up to ninth place at the end of Q2 was struck off leaving him down in P14 - and eliminated from progressing into Q3.

Albon - who had been second fastest in two out of the three practice sessions this weekend - was unhappy with the decision and felt certain that there hadn't been a track limits infraction on his lap.

"I don’t think it was track limits," he stated emphatically after the chequered flag. "However, I might be wrong. Based on the external view of the shot, it looked to me that my rear tyres were still on the white line.

"However it is what it is," he acknowledged. "It’s really frustrating."

Albon wasn't the only one to be hit by a lap time deletion, with his team mate Logan Sargeant also losing a vital lap in Q1 leaving him starting tomorrow's race from the back row of the grid.

"Unfortunately this afternoon went wrong for us," sighed the rookie, who earned his first F1 championship point last weekend in the United States Grand Prix, his home race.

"I never really had a fair chance to set a lap. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,": he said of today's qualifying session.

"Going for that last lap everyone wanted to stop in the pit lane for about a minute and lose loads of tyre temp and then there was impeding on the lap and yellow flags.

Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams Racing FW45.
27.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Practice Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images

"We should’ve got into Q2 with a clean run," he argued. "In hindsight, we needed to go early and get ahead of all that mess. It’s frustrating as we have a quick car this weekend but didn’t put a time on the board."

Even before his Q2 time was deleted, Albon had been baffled as to why the pace he had shown in the previous sessions had suddenly disappeared on Saturday afternoon, leaving him struggling for single lap pace right from the start.

"What’s more frustrating is the lack of pace in qualifying," he said. "I was four or five tenths slower than I was in FP3, losing a lot of grip, so I almost had to do tyre management to keep the tyres alive into sector 3.

"It was the same from FP1 to FP2 and now FP3 to Quali, so we really need to look into it. We’ll look to tomorrow and see what we can do.

Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing. 28.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images

Dave Robson, head of vehicle performance at Williams, agreed that it was a mystery. "Despite only minor changes to the conditions and the setup, we had a very different performance between the two sessions.

"The performance was strong in FP3 but in qualifying both drivers struggled to find the same level of grip that they had exploited in FP3.

"Added to the difficulties at the pit exit, Qualifying was much more difficult than we had hoped, with both drivers having laps deleted for very fine track limit margins.

"14th and 20th was the best we could do today," he concluded. "We would like to have started higher up the grid, but we can still race hard tomorrow."

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