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Albon: Lack of wind transformed Williams in Qatar F1 sprint

Alex Albon says a lack of wind for the Qatar sprint on Saturday worked in the favour of his Williams Formula 1 team and helped propel him into the points.

Alex Albon, Williams FW45

Alex Albon, Williams FW45

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

In recent seasons Williams has often suffered in windy conditions, and that was evident on Friday, when Albon could manage only 14th in a gusty qualifying session.

He was only 17th in the hot conditions in Saturday afternoon's shootout, but he found extra pace come the evening sprint, and charged up to eighth place by the flag.

He then gained another spot when Charles Leclerc, who had finished immediately ahead of him, was penalised for consistent abuse of track limits.

The two points came at a crucial time for his team, with Haas, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri all still in contention for seventh place in the World Championship.

“Didn't expect it that's for sure,” said Albon when asked by Autosport if scoring in the sprint was a bonus. “And obviously it helped a little bit with the carnage, but [we were] super quick as well, honestly.

“Our relative pace, compared to where we have been this weekend, it was so much quicker, I think almost half a second to a second quicker than our average pace so far this weekend. So all helped by the wind, honestly, the wind has transformed our car by [it] dropping.

"[There was]a lot of management early in the stint, to not open up the tyre, and then I could push quite hard after that.”

Alex Albon, Williams Racing Press Conference

Alex Albon, Williams Racing Press Conference

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Speaking before Leclerc’s penalty was confirmed Albon made it clear that the Monegasque driver was regularly running wide.

"I was behind the Ferraris,” he said. “They did all the track limits three times or four times in the one lap that I was behind them.

“So I wonder what they're going do about it, because I think there's no way that the drivers were respecting it.

“I was being really conscious the whole race to stay within it, because I knew how tough they've been in the past.”

Meanwhile, Albon’s team-mate showed good pace through the Qatar weekend, which was disguised somewhat by him losing laps to track limits. However, his run of misfortune continued when he spun off early in the sprint.

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"Just honestly a bit of a silly mistake, I turned in too aggressive off the entry kerb, and the rear just went light,” said the American.

"I've been driving really well all weekend, to be honest. Yesterday went as well as I could have hoped. I had a really good sprint quali, just drifted an inch too far over the line. And yeah, one mistake today.

“I'll look past it, just go back to what I was doing. I've been driving well, and we'll try a good Grand Prix tomorrow. It’s a chance to right the wrong.”

Sargeant insisted that Qatar has been a positive weekend: "I think yesterday qualifying went really well, considering what we had.

“Even today, if I just would have stayed an inch to the right, I was a hundredth from SQ2. And that's all super positive for me. And if anything that just builds my confidence, this doesn't take it away."

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