Alexander Albon will start his maiden Formula 1 Grand Prix from thirteenth on the grid, although the Anglo-Thai driver admits he was slightly disappointed not to be able to qualify inside the top ten for the Australian Grand Prix.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso driver is making his Formula 1 debut this weekend at Albert Park and set the ninth fastest time in his first Q1 session, but he could not match that position in Q2, failing to advance by just over a tenth of a second.
Albon admitted it took until Qualifying to get complete confidence in the STR14 having acclimatised himself to the Albert Park track during practice, but when he did get going, he was able to out-qualify his more experienced team-mate Daniil Kvyat.
“My Qualifying started off okay,” said Albon. “I did my first lap and when I got told of the lap times I saw how quick it is around here.
“I hooked it up on the second of the Q1 laps and fell into the rhythm – it took me all the way until Qualifying to get there, but once you get the feel you gain confidence, because the grip is there as the track evolution is huge.
“I’m a bit gutted to miss out on Q3, we knew it was going to be close in winter testing, but it’s so tight in the midfield that you can’t afford to make any mistake! I’m happy with the lap I did, but on the other side a tenth or a tenth and a half quicker and I would have been in Q3!”
Albon has hope that the new aerodynamic regulations can have a positive effect on the racing in Australia, a track notoriously difficult to overtake on, so he can attack and move forward into the points on Sunday.
“This track isn’t easy for overtaking, but maybe the new regulations will come into play and give us a chance to move up the field,” added Albon. “Our long runs look pretty good – we’re close to the points so that’s the goal for tomorrow.
“I’ll be a bit nervous and I’m not sure if I’ll sleep too well tonight! I’m really looking forward to my first race in F1 and I’ll try to keep my nose clean and bring home a good result.”