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Formula 1 Dutch GP

Albon: Williams F1 straight-line reputation "not true" in Zandvoort

Williams Formula 1 driver Alex Albon says the team no longer has its traditional top speed advantage to exploit in Sunday's Dutch Grand Prix due to running more downforce.

Alex Albon, Williams FW45

Albon was the star of Saturday qualifying by taking fourth on the grid on the high-downforce Zandvoort loop. Rookie team-mate Logan Sargeant also claimed his best qualifying result of the season in 10th, with a Q3 crash ruling out an even better grid position.

Williams has traditionally had an efficient, slippery FW45 car which has proven to be difficult for others to pass. Alpine's Pierre Gasly even revealed that Alpine treats Albon and Williams differently when it puts together its race strategy.

"We do consider the Williams slightly differently in our strategy [meetings]," he said. "Their cars just have such an advantage in straight-line speed that you don't want to be stuck behind one of them, like I was in Spa."

But Albon says Williams' straight-line reputation is not warranted in the Netherlands as the team has added more downforce to its car before the summer and has since proven to be more competitive on a wider range of circuits.

"It's a lovely compliment, but it's not true this weekend," Albon replied when Autosport asked him about Gasly's strategy comment.

"We are not top of the speed traps. We haven't been at all this weekend. We've actually been very, very midfield. And I think the Alpines and the Ferraris have been running quite a lot less downforce than we have.

PLUS: How Albon’s career stability is aiding Williams in its F1 recovery

"So, we can't do a Canada [where Albon took seventh after being impossible to pass, creating a DRS train]. We have to be quick on pure pace, else we will get overtaken.

"I think in the long run it's beneficial, because you saw it in Spa. Too much [top speed] doesn't work for our car, we overheat our tyres, so we do need a bit of downforce on it."

Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Photo by: Williams

The GPS traces seem to back this up, with the Red Bulls and Ferraris faster on the main straight than Albon in Q3, and the Anglo-Thai just slightly quicker than Mercedes' Russell and McLaren's Lando Norris.

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That's not to say that Williams' top speed prowess won't be able return next week when it reverts to a low downforce spec at Monza, the circuit that was long identified as the Grove team's biggest opportunity after the break and yielded points last season too.

Albon is predicting a tougher Zandvoort race if it stays dry on Sunday because Williams' race pace wasn't quite as impressive on Friday.

"I think our race pace was respectable in FP2, but it definitely wasn't top tier," he added. 

"And all the top tier teams are around us. There's no driver that can hold them up, they're all directly behind me, so it's going to be a tough race."

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