Alex Albon put his Williams in the top three in both Friday practice sessions at the British Grand Prix. How, exactly, he is still trying to work out.
The Anglo-Thai driver proved to be the outlier of the opening Silverstone practice session by putting his Williams P3 in the final timings, even more impressively doing so with a time within half a second of F1’s dominant force Max Verstappen.
All eyes were on FP2 then, where Albon proved it was no fluke, claiming P3 again, yet this time he narrowed Verstappen’s margin of control to only two-tenths.
Alex Albon suspects tricky conditions played a role
Albon then had the task of explaining to the media, including PlanetF1.com, where exactly Williams had found that pace, with team-mate Logan Sargeant joining him in the top five in FP2.
He admitted he would be lying by claiming these results were expected, and while he suspects that the windy conditions worked in Williams’ favour, he also hopes a chunk of the performance will be down to the Williams upgrades now working around a track well-suited to this FW45 challenger.
Additional reporting by Sam Cooper and Thomas Maher
Put to him that Williams are rarely associated with one-lap heroics, Albon replied: “Exactly. We don’t either. I’d be lying to say it’s not surprising, obviously we’re not doing anything special.
“It’s strange, because without sounding too pessimistic, it doesn’t feel great out there for us, but it clearly must feel worse for the others.
“I think the wind out there today is a real pain, it really separates the balance of the car. For us, clearly we seem to be coping with it much better than everyone else.
“We’ve also had this upgrade package, which from what we’ve seen, has been a bit better for high-speed corners than low speed, and really Canada and Austria were kind of low-speed tracks, so hopefully, maybe it is partly due to that.
“But like I said, it’s a bit of a question mark. And honestly, our long-run pace was also pretty strong considering we were on the hard tyre.
“We’ve got to keep grounded and just focus on ourselves. Bit of a strange one to finish laps and then see yourself in the top three!”
Logan Sargeant going down the pessimistic route
While Albon is going for the “grounded” approach, team-mate Sargeant appeared a little more sceptical over where the Williams pace truly stacks up against those at the sharp end of the grid when they lay all of their performance cards on the table.
The American rookie also warned that the conditions are set to change for Saturday, with heavy downpours expected, which will create a totally different challenge.
Asked if he is going into qualifying day rather puzzled like his team-mate, Sargeant told media including PlanetF1.com: “Yeah, definitely. I think tomorrow, a lot of things change. It’s going to be a lot cooler, rain is on the way.
“I think we were just making the best out of a difficult situation with conditions. And honestly, it’s hard to believe that a lot of people don’t have a lot in their pocket, so I’m not sure.
“It was cool to have a good day, relatively near the front. Still have some time to find to Alex in low and high-fuel, so that’s what I’ll dig into and see what I can do better. And yeah, we’ll see what happens.”
Albon has scored all seven of Williams’ points so far in F1 2023, with Sargeant and fellow rookie at AlphaTauri Nyck de Vries the only drivers yet to put a point on the board.