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Formula 1 Bahrain GP

Albon: Front wing damage robbed me of Bahrain F1 Q3 chance

Alex Albon says he was frustrated not to qualify in the top 10 in Bahrain after a front wing breakage on his Williams Formula 1 car ended his hopes in Q2.

Alexander Albon, Williams FW45

Rivals had pegged Williams as the 10th-fastest team in the 2023 field after testing at Sakhir, a view that Albon himself supported.

However, the former Red Bull driver put in a sensational performance in Q1 to progress through in ninth place, while cars from Haas, McLaren, AlphaTauri and Alpine did not make the cut.

His hopes of making it any further were dashed by an issue with a front wing flap, which the team believes was damaged by a kerb strike. He thus didn’t set a flying lap and had to settle for 15th on the grid.

“We deserved more,” said Albon, when asked by Autosport if he was encouraged by the performance. “We had a very good Q1, truthfully speaking, possibly unexpected - that's for sure. But the pace was there.

“We've seen it a few times this year where, once the track conditions get cooler and you can afford to slide a little bit more, we get away with it. I think the track came to us, but also we've got the pace.

“We've made some unbelievable steps forwards if you look at where we were last year to this year. I think bar the Aston Martin, we've made biggest steps forwards so I'm really happy.”

Albon said that Williams is able to focus all its efforts on Q1 pace, a strategy that might have caught out rivals.

“I really enjoy these Q1s because when you're in our position, you really can't afford to have a mistake, you have to nail it from the first push lap in qualifying.

Alex Albon, Williams FW45, Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45

Alex Albon, Williams FW45, Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“It's a different mindset to other teams who can maybe build into it more than us. But that's where we can catch people off-guard I think, and out-perform while they get up to speed.

“I'm very proud of everyone at the factory, who put it all together today. And I say it again, but I really mean it, we could have been in Q3 today.”

Regarding the issue that stopped him late, he said: “Unfortunately in Q2 my front wing broke. I think it happened pretty much as soon as the lap started. One of the flaps came off, so we couldn't complete our lap.

“But when I look at the cut-off times, there was pace in the car because I had traffic in my last two corners on my Q1 lap and I knew there was at least a couple of tenths on the table there. Which makes it frustrating because I do believe we would have definitely had a chance in Q3 today.

“So I'm a kind of frustrated/happy person because coming from winter testing on the pace of the car we've done a very good job.”

He added: “On top of everything, we went for the medium downforce car, we went for straight line speed, we've gone for the race pace. In quali we weren't expecting great things, but it will put us in a great place tomorrow.”

Williams' head of vehicle performance Dave Robson indicated that the wing was probably damaged on a kerb.

“You could see it in the pressure tabs on the front wing as soon as it happened,” he explained when asked by Autosport how it got damaged.

“It wasn't immediately obvious exactly what it was but you could see on the TV, because he was the only car on the track at that point, the TV coverage pretty quickly showed it so the left-hand side of the flap had just collapsed, the adjustor mechanism had snapped.

 “I think it was 9g vertical bounce on the exit kerb of Turn 2. It's quite clear that's where it finally failed, how much damage it had sustained and fatigued up to that point we're still working on.”

Additional reporting by Alex Kalinauckas and Jonathan Noble

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