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Formula 1 Dutch GP

Albon: Headwind masked Williams problems in F1 Dutch GP qualifying

Alex Albon has explained how a headwind at Zandvoort has "hidden the normal problems" suffered by Williams to enable him to qualify fourth for Formula 1's 2023 Dutch Grand Prix.

Alex Albon, Williams FW45

Albon topped Q1 on Saturday, ran third in Q2 and then completed the second row of the grid in the final shootout, having lapped 0.852 seconds adrift of clear polesitter Max Verstappen.

Albon had expected a "rubbish" performance for the slippery Williams given the high-downforce requirements of Zandvoort which made the track "one of the worst ones" for the team.

He had anticipated a tailwind into the medium-speed Turn 9 right-hander but this changed "180 degrees" to become a headwind, which paved the way for Albon's surprise showing.

The Thai-Briton told Sky Sports: "There's been this headwind in a lot of these kinds of low-speed corners, braking corners, and we always struggle with low-speed braking.

"When you've got this headwind, it makes everything feel better, it gives you that front load on the car and hopefully that wind's not changing tomorrow [for the race], I hope.

"It's hidden the normal problems that we have in our car.

"The tailwind corners have been normally high-speed corners where our car has never been that bad at, so I think there's an element of that going on."

As per the team's strong one-lap pace at Silverstone, Albon reckoned Williams now needed to "reverse-engineer" the weekend to "understand why it's been so strong".

Alex Albon, Williams FW45

Alex Albon, Williams FW45

Photo by: Dom Romney / Motorsport Images

He also explained that the team had gone some way to anticipate the favourable conditions by experimenting with the wind settings in its simulator preparations.

Albon added: "Turn 9, Turn 11 have always been terrible corners for us. Corners where we've been losing two tenths each corner.

"And with the headwinds… half a tenth, maybe. And so, I think that's helped us a lot. A lot more than normal.

"We actually drove these winds on the simulator. We do play around with it. We knew this wind was good for our car. But we got it, which is nice."

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Team boss James Vowles added that the qualifying result was reflective of a weekend that had been strong throughout for Williams.

He told Sky Sports: "Even going into FP1, we noticed the car balance was in a good place, the tyres were in a good place.

"That gives you something to build on immediately. So, from FP1 onwards, we knew there was a better shot than normal.

"But the conditions today certainly favoured us. Do I think we have a car that in normal dry conditions would have been fourth? No.

"But Alex and the team delivered everything today. It was a very impressive result."

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