Alex Cruelly Denied Maiden Podium at Interlagos
Alexander Albon was cruelly denied his maiden podium finish, in his Rookie season of Formula One - after being spun out of 2nd position in the Brazilian Grand Prix on the penultimate lap of the race.
The Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, hosted the Brazilian Grand Prix for Round 20 of the 2019 Formula One World Championship, being the final circuit on the calendar that Alex has never previously visited.
Alex settled into the Interlagos Circuit well, setting the fastest time in opening practice - which took place in wet conditions. Before setting the 5th fastest time in final practice leading into Qualifying on Saturday.
An incredibly tight session saw Alex set a time of a 1:07.935s - just 0.2s from P4, ultimately setting the 6th fastest time of the session.
A grid penalty for Charles Leclerc for an engine change, meant Alex would be promoted to P5 on the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Alex got a good start, challenging the Mercedes of Valterri Bottas for P4 in the early stages. The Thai driver pitted on Lap 24 to swap the Soft tyre he started on for a new Medium tyre into his second stint.
His pace in the second stint was particularly impressive, as he managed to leap frog Bottas - who attempted to run on the Hard tyre until the end of the race. Alex was then running in P5 into the final stages of the race, making his second stop for fresh Soft tyres - just before Bottas retired from the race with what appeared to be an engine failure.
The Safety Car was soon deployed, which saw the majority of the grid pit for fresh tyres. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc emerged behind Alex, while his teammate Sebastian Vettel emerged just infront of him.
On the restart, Lewis Hamilton bunched the field right up on the main straight - which gave Alex an opportunity to challenge Vettel ahead. Alex seized P3 with a brilliantly bold overtake around the outside of the 4-time World Champion into the 'Senna Esses', before defending from his rival to cement his move into the podium positions.
Alex was then challenging Hamilton ahead, who opted not to stop for tyres during the Safety Car period. On lap 65, the two Ferrari's of Vettel and Leclerc collided - causing a second Safety Car period due to the debris on track.
The race resumed for a two-lap shootout to the end of the Grand Prix, where Alex defended well from Hamilton - who pitted for fresh tyres during the final Safety Car period.
Alex held P2, until Hamilton went for a late move into 'Bico de Pato', tagging the rear right of Alex and agonisingly spinning him out of P2 on the penultimate lap of the race.
The late race heartbreak saw Alex cross the line in P14, after coming so close to what would have been a well deserved, maiden podium finish in Formula One.
Alexander Albon (Car 23):
“Of course I’m frustrated but I’m not angry, I’m just upset. I wanted that podium and we deserved it as it was on merit.
At the Safety Car restart we had some fun and I enjoyed battling with the Ferrari's, the overtake felt good! Obviously Lewis had good grip once he pitted and I think he would’ve got me eventually into Turn 1, but I thought worst case scenario we had P3.
I had a good gap to Lewis and I wasn’t worrying about him. I went into the corner deep just to cover him so he didn’t get any ideas, and then there’s a blind spot and obviously we made contact. Of course he didn’t do it on purpose, it’s just one of those things and today wasn’t meant to be. It’s done now and we’ll focus on the positives before the next race.
Congratulations also to Max, he drove really well and deserved the win."
Alex will be back in action for the final race of his Rookie season of Formula One, at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, on the 30 November - 1 December.