Alex Albon admitted he will have to fight hard to maintain his position from the start of the Belgian Grand Prix after an impressive qualifying session from the Williams driver.
It was Albon’s first Q3 appearance of the season, putting in solid laps to put himself in the top 10 on merit.
But with grid penalties for multiple drivers in front of him he will be promoted to the third row for the race start, lining up P6 alongside Mercedes driver and his good friend George Russell.
Albon has shown strong form at a few races so far this season, with the Thai-British driver previously admitting the FW44 needs to be in a narrow performance window to extract the most from the car, adding the upgrades brought to it have made the FW44 more “sensitive” than the early model.
Albon put in an excellent lap in Q1 in particular to put himself sixth at the time – something he said had come as a surprise to him in the cockpit.
“Very happy about that,” Albon smiled to Sky F1 after the session.
“Obviously we came into this weekend a little bit more optimistic than normal – low downforce circuits tend to suit us and when stars align a little bit, we can get lap time out of the car.
“We were struggling a little bit in FP3, we made some changes which helped the car and then the Q1 [message] when they said we were P6 at the time, that was a bit of a shock and then we were just staying in it.
“Tried something for Q3 which didn’t quite work out without a slipstream but we are super-happy and to be P6, elbows have to be out tomorrow. This isn’t Monaco where it’s quite easy to keep people behind. But let’s see.”
— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) August 27, 2022
Max Verstappen was comfortably fastest in qualifying at Spa, but will drop to P15 as one of the seven drivers taking engine-related penalties over the weekend, which means Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz will start on pole.
Sergio Perez joins him on the front row, with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton occupying the row in front of Albon on the grid.
His Williams team-mate Nicholas Latifi had been knocked out in Q1, but the multiple penalties will promote him to 11th for the race start.