Alex Secures Strong Result in Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
Alex Albon just missed out on a Top-10 result after maximising his opportunities in the first F1 Sprint of the season and the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Imola hosted the first F1 Sprint of 2022, and after an unfortunate qualifying - Alex starting from P20 bolted on the soft compound tyres for the short Saturday race.
After making it around the first few corners in one piece, an incident involving Pierre Gasly and Zhou Guanyu brought out the Safety Car with the Chinese driver stranded on the edge of the track.
We were back underway on Lap 5, with Alex getting the jump on Nicky going into the Tamburello chicane.
Gasly, who had managed to keep his Alpha Tauri going after the earlier incident, would pass our pair as the Sprint went into its closing stages.
With no mandatory pit stop required in F1 Sprint, Alex was managing their tyres before crossing the line to lock in a P18 grid slot for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
After rain earlier in the afternoon, the iconic Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari had dried sufficiently to ensure an intermediate tyre start for every driver on the grid.
Alex gained three spots at the race start before the Safety Car was required to allow Carlos Sainz’s beached Ferrari to be recovered from the Tamburello chicane gravel trap.
We were back racing on Lap 5 and Alex climbed another place soon after when damage forced Fernando Alonso to retire.
Alex was soon all over the gearbox of Pierre Gasly, but with a damp track, the DRS was not enabled and going off of the dry line proved treacherous.The threat of rain was ever-present, but with a drying track, the decision was soon made to change to medium compound tyres, with Alex one of the first to make the switch on Lap 17.
A long stop for Hamilton allowed Alex to make the jump on the seven-time World Champion.
“Well done boys” was the call over the radio after a smooth stop, and just one rotation later the Thai driver gained another place, getting the move done on Gasly into Turn 2.
Running in P12, Alex was informed that the car immediately in front of him, Esteban Ocon’s Alpine, was carrying a five-second time penalty, meaning all he had to do was stay close or make the move.
It developed into a real midfield battle for the remainder of the race, but Alex’s superior speed on the straight kept him ahead.
He crossed the line a little over one second behind Ocon to secure P11 after keeping Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton at bay for well over half of the total race distance., finishing just five seconds behind Lance Stroll who occupied the final points-paying position.
Alex Albon, Williams Racing Driver #23:
“I’m really happy with the result today! We maximised the opportunities and overtook some cars on track with the pace we had. We had a new rear wing configuration for the weekend which really helped us hold position, and was particularly important in the second half of the race when battling with Gasly."
“It’s a shame that we missed out on points by one place, but we are taking opportunities, doing things differently and showing that we can battle higher up despite not having the fastest car.
I was hoping DRS would be enabled a little earlier; we had six or seven laps where we were faster than the cars ahead and, with our downforce levels, we could have got past straight away if we’d had DRS. By the time it was enabled I was wishing it hadn’t been!
Overall, another weekend with plenty of positives for the team to take onwards to Miami.”
The next race of the 2022 Formula One World Championship on the 6-8 May for the inaugral Miami Grand Prix.