Alex Shows Strongly in Soaking Istanbul
Alex Albon put in a strong performance at the Turkish Grand Prix, where in torrential conditions he was contesting for the lead of the race before a strategy call backfired - finishing P7 at the chequered flag.
Istanbul Park and it's iconic Turn 8 returned to the Formula One calendar for the first time since 2011 - a track that Red Bull Racing have traditionally excelled at in their history.
The team carried that form into Free Practice, where despite the shock of the incredibly low-grip recently resurfaced tarmac, Alex hit the ground running well with P2 and P5 in the two Friday Practice Sessions.
Alex carried the positive momentum into Saturday, where torrential rain greeted them for Free Practice 3 and Qualifying. Alex was 3rd quickest in FP3, before Qualifying 4th in Q3 - being the lead driver on the Extreme Wet Pirell Tyres, after the top-three found more lap time on the Intermediate Tyres.
As the race got underway, both Alex and teammate Max Verstappen who started on the left-hand side had difficult getaways, with almost no grip on that side of the circuit.
Alex survived the first corner incident involving Esteban Ocon, Daniel Ricciardo and Valterri Bottas - holding P7 in the early stages of the race.
The two Aston Martin Red Bull Racing cars began to revel in the conditions, where Alex was able to make up ground - passing both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel within a lap of each other half-way through the first stint, putting himself up to P4 and one position behind Max.
Following the opening round of pitstops for Intermediate Tyres, Max had a spin while trying to overtake the Racing Point of Sergio Perez - elevating Alex into the podium positions.
Alex took chunks of time out of the two leading Racing Points, moving within a second of Perez and within three seconds of then leader Lance Stroll - with Alex looking on course to pass the pair of them.
However with no DRS enabled yet, Alex struggled to overtake Perez and had to conserve his tyres - as the top 5 bunched up into a critical phase of the race.
After the two Ferrari's of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel commited to another pitstop for Intermediates, Alex had a spin at Turn 4 - dropping him behind Hamilton and joining Max into commiting to a two-stop strategy on Intermediates.
Alex made great early progress, passing Stroll and moving back up into P6 - however his tyres began to fade, struggling for grip and his progress halted.
Max pitted late on for another set of tyres and closed in on Alex in the tail-end of the race, making use of his tyres to pass the Thai driver as the teammates swapped positions.
Sadly neither were able to make further progress, as the amazing pace they enjoyed on the second stint when they first swapped to Intermediates eluded them in the latter stages of the race.
Alex crossed the line in P7, 1.5 seconds behind Max after a race that looked so promising, sadly got away from the team.
Alexander Albon (Car 23):
“I have mixed feelings as everything was going to plan and it looked like we were on for the win but it was a strange race and finishing seventh is definitely confusing. We have been so competitive all weekend so today is a tough one to take.
Both of us had poor starts but we picked our way through the field and when we pitted for inters, we had incredible grip and we were so quick. The pace was really strong but then we boxed for a second set of inters and we had no grip and no pace so there’s a bit of head scratching.
It’s hard to understand but we’ll sit down and understand it as these conditions were so unusual. This weekend has been going really well, I’m happy with the progress we’ve made and some things on my side of the garage have definitely helped so I can’t wait to get out there in Bahrain and get going again.”
Alex is now preparing for the first of a Bahrain double-header, with the first race in two weeks time, on the 27-29 November.