Albon: Williams' championship fate hinged on Tsunoda

Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing. 28.11.2023. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Tuesday. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
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Alex ALbon has admitted that the outcome of Williams' battle for seventh place in the 2023 constructors championship was out of his team's fate and rested largely on what Yuki Tsunoda could manage.

The two teams went into the season finale in seventh place in the standings, but AlphaTauri was only seven points behind and in with a chance of overtaking their rivals. At stake was an estimated $9 million on prize money.

Tsunoda qualified in sixth place. With Neither Albon nor Sargeant in the top ten and ultimately finishing the weekend out of the points, Tsunoda could have pulled off the late pass by finishing the race where he started.

Despite a heroic effort which included becoming only the second Japanese driver in the history of F1 to lead a Grand Prix, a one-stop strategy saw Tsunoda cross the line in eighth - meaning Williams kept their position in the championship.

After finishing in 14th place, Albon said there had been nothing more that he could do in the Williams at Yas Marina and that there had been no chance of him taking points.

“It was a tough race where we were just dependent on Yuki,” Albon told the media after the race. “Unfortunately Yuki was too fast. We couldn't have any involvement in his race because he was up the road from us.

“But fortunately for us, some of the quicker cars got past him so happy to cement that P7," he continued, referring to the likes of Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz who had all started behind Tsunoda.

Albon suffered a poor start to the race, dropping three places on the opening lap. “Straight into wheel spin, and then went into more wheel spin, and then really struggled in the beginning," he reported.

Albon improved after that and peaked in P11 before his first pit stop, although that was as close to the points as he got all evening after he dropped back to 19th after his service.

Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW45 makes a pit stop. 26.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

By his second stop he had been running in 13th. In the final stint he looked set for 15th before Carlos Sainz suffered a power unit failure in the Ferrari, promoting Albon to 14th.

"My race was okay; I don't think it was the best following a bad start, but we seemed to recover for the second and third stint," he agreed.

Increased wind on race way had also proven to be a challenge for the FW45. “The wind was quite high in the first 20 laps of the race, and it’s amazing how it frustrates our car.”

“It makes it so much harder to drive, so much more disconnected," he lamented. "And then the wind died down and we changed tyres and then the car came alive, especially the final stint we were very strong.

Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW45. 26.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

"That’s kind of the sensitivities of our car. I feel like if we hadn’t had that first stint, we could have been fighting for points.

"Looking to next year, we've got a challenge ahead of us but I'm already excited for what's to come," he added. "Looking at the progress we've made, it's a great achievement.

"I'll give myself credit for what has been my strongest year in F1. The connection I have with the team has allowed us to execute the season well, even when we've been fighting race after race to hold our positions.

"It's been the hard work across the year that's allowed us to seal P7 in the constructors' championship," he said. Congratulations to the team, including everyone at track and back at the factory."

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