Albon was surprised to be only driver on slicks at start of Q2

2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Alexander Albon did not believe he was taking a gamble by starting Q2 on slick tyres and was surprised all his rivals began the session on intermediates.

The track was damp but drying as Q2 began and Albon’s decision to use slick tyres from the beginning paid off. The Williams driver, who has only scored one point so far this year, ended Q2 with the quickest time.

“We’ve had good pace,” said Albon, who is running the only example of the team’s upgrade package this weekend. “In Q1 we were P6 or whatever it was so we were feeling good.”

The team wasn’t intending to gamble by running slick tyres at the start of Q2, said Albon, who feared he’d made a mistake when he saw no one else had done the same. He was reminded of George Russell, who spun off in the rain-hit Q3 session at the track last year after switching to slicks.

“We just felt like it was the right thing to do,” Albon explained. “I was surprised seeing everyone roll out on the inters, which kind of made me doubt it a little bit – I had in the back of my head George from last year.

“So I remember on my first push [lap] I was particularly slow through turn one and turn two to make sure I avoided it. But it was great to get through and obviously just a bit of fun to be in P1.”

Lando Norris, who was one of the first drivers to follow Albon’s call, said it was a risky decision. However he also reached Q3 at the expense of others who waited longer to change tyres.

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“There were discussions of what we might do,” Norris explained. “Going straight out on the slick was quite a bold thing, so fair play to them for taking the risk but it was also quite a risk at the same time.

“At Williams, they tend to do that quite a bit. Sometimes it really pays off for them, sometimes it doesn’t. It just seems that’s their mentality, but they did a good job it was the right decision, clearly.

“I think we were still the second or third car onto the slick tyres, so I think we still did it in good time. A lot of people clearly didn’t, so I think the decisions we made and the timing for all of it was good. Through the whole of qualifying, I think we made good decisions the whole way through so from that side and team side, I think we were one of the best.”

Although Albon reached Q3 he was unable to fully capitalise on his gamble after making a mistake at the one opportunity he had to set a flying lap.

“Q3 was a tricky one because the track suddenly became much wetter. The tyres, to get them in the window became much harder and I felt like I just struggled a little bit with that.

“It felt like the tyres were cooling down quite a lot down the straights when the rain picked up. That’s normally fine because in the wet you’re doing consecutive running anyway and you’re just getting quicker and quicker, but then obviously on the second lap there was a red flag.”

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Oscar Piastri’s crash meant Albon only had one chance to set a competitive time.

“I made a mistake, that’s fair, and I’m disappointed on that side of things,” he said. “I just lost a bit of front tyre temp going into the last corner after the long back straight and that was it really.

“When I came ’round and I saw Oscar facing backwards I knew that was it, really. I knew that it was going to be too wet once we went back out again. So mixed opinions, mixed emotions.”

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2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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5 comments on “Albon was surprised to be only driver on slicks at start of Q2”

  1. Rain is the best identifier of talent in F1. I always like to see where the big gaps appear between teammates in the wet, it gives a great overview of who is the better driver. As expected, Logan Sargent is very very average.

    1. Rain is the best identifier of talent in F1.

      That’s true to a degree, but not nearly as much as it used to be.

      Still, it’s far more interesting to watch the drivers having to modulate the throttle and make steering corrections in those conditions – pretty much how F1 used to be in the dry, and many other series still are.

      Reply moderated
    2. Turkey 2020 – Hamilton

    3. Didn’t latifi tend to beat albon in the wet? I think it’s a little more complex than you make it sound

  2. Because everyone else had a shot at Q3 on inters and wanted to put in a secure laptime before everyone started betting on reds with the chances of what mayhem that could have caused. And because the track wasn’t ready right away for slicks. Albon did at least two laps before starting to improve, but that also ment he was at the track at the right time in the small window for slicks. Drivers one lap or just half a lap behind on slicks didn’t faire as well.

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