Late Race Imola Incident Denies Alex Points
Alex Albon was denied serious points in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola after a late-race incident saw him spun out of P6.
Imola returned to the calendar for the first time since the 2006 San Marino Grand Prix. Alex headed into the new 'two-day weekend' format in an open mind, where there would be one single practice session before Qualfying on Saturday, with the Grand Prix scheduled as normal on Sunday.
Alex got his first taste of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in his RB16, completing 41 laps in Free Practice 1 with a mix of short and long runs across all three tyre compounds.
Qualifying was exceptionally close, as the time between P4 and P8 being 0.1s! Alex set the 6th fastest time overall after making it into Q3 - he would be starting the Grand Prix on the Soft compound tyre.
Alex got an decent getaway but lost a place to the fast starting Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari. Alex was elevated to P6 soon after, following the retirement of Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly.
Alex shadowed and pressured the Ferrari throughout the opening stint, just narrowly missing out on 'overcutting' Leclerc by going a lap later on his first stint, where he pitted for the Hard compound Pirelli tyres.
The middle of the race saw a three-car track build up for P5, as the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo, Leclerc and Alex all were separated by less than 1.5s for most of the running.
Drama struck late on, with Alex's teammate Max Verstappen suffering a right rear tyre failure on Lap 50 - bringing out the safety car.
Alex opted to stay out and not pit, gaining himself track position and into P5 - with Leclerc and Ricciardo following suit, whilst as the Racing Point of Sergio Perez stopped for tyres and rejoined behind Alex.
As the race restarted, those who pitted were quick to 'fire' up their tyres, putting the drivers in P3-P5 under enormous pressure. Alex lost out to Danil Kvyat into Turn One, who also had stopped for tyres. Alex held position until the Variante Villeneuve corner, where he was pitched into a spin - dropping him from P6 to the back of the field.
With only 8 laps to go, Alex was unable to fight back to recover lost ground - meaning he crossed the line in P15 after a chaotic end to the race himself and the team.
Alexander Albon (Car 23):
“Finishing last didn't show what really happened throughout the race, it was tricky out there and it was one of those races where we spent lots of time behind other cars in a train. I don't really know what happened at the re-start yet.
The tyres were cold and I had to push hard to try and stay ahead of the cars who had pitted under the Safety Car, which caused the spin, but it also felt like I may have got clipped but I'm not sure. It all just happened so quickly. In hindsight maybe we could have done something different, it was a difficult one, if we pitted for softs like the other cars did towards the end of the race then we could have seen a much better result.
Obviously, it's not what we wanted but I'm going to focus on Turkey now and take the positives from how the car felt and an improved Saturday."
After two races in succession out of the points, Alex will be aiming to turn his fortunes around at the Turkish Grand Prix in two weeks time, on the 13-15 November.