Albon details wheel-nut drama that ruined Imola race

© XPB 

Alex Albon shed light on his disastrous afternoon of racing in the Emilia Romagna countryside which was cut short by the consequences of a poorly executed pitstop by his Williams crews.

Albon launched his race from P14 on the grid and held his position in the opening laps of the race until his first pit stop on lap 8.

Unfortunately, the switch from the medium to the hard tyre had been anything but a routine stop. The Anglo-Thai racer almost immediately radioed his team to signal an issue with a loose wheel.

It was a critical error that could have had far worse consequence, but Albon was able to nurse his car back to the pits for a second – incident-free – tyre change.

Albon wasn’t happy, but neither were the stewards who placed Williams under investigation for an unsafe release. Eventually, the officials hit Albon with a 10-second penalty for Albon, further crippling his race.

Stuck two laps down and facing an uphill battle, the team made the tough decision to retire Albon's car on Lap 51.

Albon said he realized almost immediately, following his first pit stop, that he had a problem.

“Pretty much out the pit lane,” he said. “So as soon as I got up to speed and braked into Turn 1, [there was] too much vibration.

“The wheel nut… it wasn’t like it was totally off, but it was just a little bit of free play, so [it was] safe to come back but not safe enough to race.

“I was hoping for a Safety Car and then a NASCAR-style waving by! But nothing really came and then we fell two laps back after the penalty, so not perfect.”

Albon, fresh off a multi-year contract extension with Williams, remained grounded as he assessed his team’s current level of performance. While encouraged by the car's improved handling, he didn't shy away from the reality – Williams still has a way to go to improve its results.

“I’m generally actually really positive about the weekend,” the 28-year-old said.

“I think, on reflection, that was the best the car’s felt. Set-up wise, I think it was a good step from us, [it] made the car feel a bit more complete which is something we’ve been chasing all year so far.

“But the reality is everyone’s fast, the reality is that we are hovering around that ninth, 10th fastest car, and that’s about it.”

On the other side of the Williams garage, Logan Sargeant managed to see the checkered flag, albeit in a lowly P17 position as the American “ticked over” the laps.

“It was a weird one,” Sargeant said. “Tried to start on the hard [compound], the tyre really got damaged early on in the race, and [I was] just trying to hang on in that stint, do some defending, trying to hurt some other people’s races to hopefully help me later on.

“Then we went to that second stint and it was blue flag after blue flag, lots of dirty air. We’re having these big swings of performance, and it was all just coming from the temperature of the tyre.

“We found a bit of clean air, the performance would come, then into the dirty air and we’d immediately start to struggle. [I] don’t really know what to say, I just did my best to tick over the laps as best I could."

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