A stunning qualifying session in Belgium has seen Alex Albon qualify in ninth place for Williams.
Thanks to grid penalties further up the field, the Thai driver will start from P6 on the grid in Sunday’s race.
‘It felt really good out there. We’ve been quietly confident all weekend; we were looking for Q2, so Q3 is a bit unexpected but we’re very happy – this is a great result for us. The car was feeling strong, we’re still learning our package and we made some changes from FP3 which helped the car for qualifying. We know our car likes low downforce and, when track conditions are in a place that suits us, we can extract a good lap time out of the car. We were P9 on pure pace. Everyone seemed to have clear runs today and we were only a couple of tenths behind Mercedes, so it shows that in certain situations we can really maximise what we have. With the penalties we are starting sixth and so we have to try to hold on and maybe even overtake at the start. We’ve got a car that, on paper, should be hard to overtake as we are quick on the straights, but it’s also not a track like Monaco where it’s easy to keep people behind, so it’ll be elbows out tomorrow.’
‘I felt like we were making progress through FP3 and things were feeling much better. Despite the result, I feel the car had the potential to reach Q2, so it’s disappointing from my side and for the team. Unfortunately, the last lap was the worst lap of the weekend for me. I got caught out by the unpredictability of the car and tyres. There were a lot of big mistakes on the lap, so it ended up being scrappy. It’s frustrating to not put it on the board in the session that mattered. We’ll be starting a bit higher up the grid with a number of cars taking penalties so it could create some opportunities.’
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
‘We had a decent day today and made some good progress with the car. We made some aggressive changes overnight and these were a little bit too far in FP3, which led us to lose some of the pace we showed yesterday. However, some good engineering ahead of qualifying allowed us to find a good balance in qualifying. The tyres were tricky today in the cool conditions and we had to adapt our approach a little ahead of the delayed qualifying session, but this worked reasonably well, and we were able to get both cars into a decent window.
‘Nicky lost some time at T1 of his final lap in Q1 but otherwise completed a good lap and was unfortunate not to progress to Q2. Alex did a very good job to progress to Q3 and once there we opted to lead the pack and use the free air. He left nothing on the table and it was right to go for a full attack lap.
‘Both cars will inherit some grid positions once the penalties are applied and whilst this will help the race start, it does mean that we will need to play a fairly defensive strategy tomorrow.’