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Formula 1 British GP

Albon “licking my lips” after safety car in British GP

Alex Albon said he was 'licking his lips' ahead of the safety car restart at the British GP as he anticipated a charge to the chequered flag.

The Safety Car Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Having started eighth, the Williams driver was among those who ran long first stints and were able to time their pit stops to coincide with a virtual safety car period after Kevin Magnussen stopped on track.

It quickly turned into a full safety car period and after the resumption, Albon was running in ninth place.

He managed to get by Carlos Sainz and, in the closing laps, was pushing Fernando Alonso while at the same time successfully fending off Charles Leclerc.

Prior to his run to eighth, Albon had been in the top three in all three free practice sessions, indicating the competitiveness of the FW45 at Silverstone.

“It was a great weekend,” said Albon. “It feels like when you think about the speed of the car, P8 has been the worst position of the free practices and qualifying and race.

“We expected the race to be a bit more difficult with Fernando and Checo [Perez] behind us. Struggled a little bit at the start. In fact, there was a bit of cement from the Porsches [support race].

“I don't know if that was the reason why, but I didn't have much grip at the start. And then for most of the race, we were okay. We were actually feeling quite good with the car.”

Alex Albon, Williams FW45

Alex Albon, Williams FW45

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Albon had been running outside the points-paying positions prior to the safety car period and conceded the intervention had been fortunate. 

“I have to say that safety car came out in a perfect, perfect time," he added.

“So we boxed in, and obviously had a restart, kind of licking my lips a little bit. And yeah, the Ferraris were, I guess, on the harder compounds.

“I was able to get past Carlos. And then it was a tricky race. I had better pace than Fernando, which was a bit of a surprise. But then Charles was coming quite quickly at the end.

“So it was a race of forwards and backwards – one eye forward, one eye back. It became a bit of a dogfight. I wouldn't have wanted that race to last one more lap.”

Asked what an extra lap might have meant, he said: “I think Charles would have got past. If it was one lap Charles would have got past, if it was two laps Charles would have got past both of us. And I would have got past Fernando. That's my theory!”

Albon acknowledged that the team expected the car to be more competitive at Silverstone relative to other tracks, even its overall form was a surprise.

Alex Albon, Williams FW45, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, the remainder of the field on the opening lap

Alex Albon, Williams FW45, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, the remainder of the field on the opening lap

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

“I think our highs and lows are quite easy to predict,” he said. “I don't know if McLaren could have predicted their pace this weekend. But I think we can.

“It's quite clear that tracks where there's a bit lower downforce and a lot of full-throttle time - that's all us. That's how we like it.

“So it's also important that the track remains quite cool. Today the track temp was dropping at the end of the race, which made us a bit more competitive.

“And also not much braking, the less braking the better for us. So Silverstone works out quite well for that.”

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Albon’s Silverstone score left Williams seventh in the championship, on the same points as Haas.

“The thing is, we definitely have a quicker car this year,” said Albon. “And this new package has also set everything up a level. But we wouldn't go into Hungary expecting points.

“We're still going to have our good circuits and our bad circuits, and Spa, Monza are still our focus.

“So we are in a very good place. Points aren't always available, so in the few races where we can score points this year coming up we're going to have to make sure we capitalise to stay seventh.”

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