Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda‘s Alexander Albon admits he felt frustrated at the Chinese Grand Prix following his shunt in Free Practice 3, but believes the pace of the STR14 is capable of making Qualifying 3 appearances.
Albon suffered a setback on the Saturday of Formula 1‘s 1000th Grand Prix, when the Thai-Anglo driver crashed heavily into the barriers at the final corner of the Shanghai circuit. The extend of the damage meant Albon didn’t qualify and started the race from the pit lane.
But the four-time FIA Formula 2 winner provided a strong drive in the race, utilising a one-stop strategy to good effect to capture tenth place, and was able to hold back the Rich Energy Haas of Romain Grosjean in the final stages of the race. His drive earned him the ‘Driver of the Day’ award as voted by fans on Social Media.
Despite the strong drive through the field in China, Albon admitted that he felt frustrated because of the crash, saying that he missed an opportunity to collect further points due to their good pace.
“I was a bit frustrated in China because of the crash as I felt it was an opportunity missed, mainly because of the good pace we had just before it,” said Albon
“I’ll be more careful on artificial grass in future! I was a bit annoyed with myself but still positive going into the race as I knew we had the potential to get points, even from the pit lane. I’m happy we could make it in the end.
“Each time I get in the car, I’m feeling more comfortable with it, my understanding of tyre management always gets better and our pace is improving steadily too.”
The next round in the 2019 F1 calendar takes the series to the streets of Baku for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Another track Albon has raced around previously in F2.
Last year provided good memories for the Thai driver as he clinched his first pole position and feature race win in the series with DAMS. It was his first win out of four he collected, as he finished third overall in the F2 2018 drivers’ standings.
“I’ve raced in Baku in Formula 2, in fact I won the first ever featured race there, the one with all of the crashes,” commented Albon reflecting on the F2 race last year.
“I got pole and I kept out of trouble, even though a bad pit stop saw me drop down to third and then we were three abreast going into Turn 1.
“We all went straight on, but I went less straight on than the other two, found myself second but managed to get past for the win. It’s a nice memory, when we’re about to go there!”
Toro Rosso lie ninth overall in the constructors’ championship with four points on the board. Both Albon and team-mate Daniil Kvyat have scored, but it is the rookie of Albon who has collected the most points, having secured three points in the last two races.
The pace of the STR14 have proven to be strong and is among a competitor within the battle in the midfield, but have yet to make Q3 appearance this season. Albon believes the team has proven in the first three races of 2019 that the car is quick enough to earn a spot in Q3 and has set a target in getting into the final session.
“I have to consider this will be my first time on a street circuit in a Formula 1 car. I enjoy street tracks, especially driving a car with low downforce between the walls – after China, maybe Franz won’t enjoy watching me so much!
“Baku is a proper circuit, in the sense that, if you have the speed you can pass other cars. Our car has been quick enough at all three races for both of us to be in Q3 and we haven’t managed that yet. That should be our goal for qualifying.”