Qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was not what the Williams Racing team were hoping for, as a red flag caused by Nicolas Latifi hitting the wall made added to the existing time pressure that is present at the longer Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Alex Albon was directly affected by this stoppage, meaning he was only able to set a time good enough for seventeenth place, while his teammate retired from the session and will start nineteenth.
Dave Robson, head of vehicle performance at Williams claims that the historic team made progress between Friday and Saturday’s practice sessions, but weren’t able to maximise it in qualifying, “We made some progress overnight with the setup and used the running in FP3 to determine the best run plan for Qualifying.
“Unfortunately, Nicholas touched the wall at the end of FP3 causing some minor damage to the front wing, which meant that he missed the grid start at the end of the session. Alex had a smoother session and confirmed that he was reasonably happy with the car.”
Robson continued “As we typically see on street circuits, qualifying can be very busy with a range of approaches to tyres and a constant risk of flag interruptions. With the lap being so long here in Jeddah, the run plans get squeezed and there is little slack.”
“We had a programme to get both drivers a good shot at the tyre preparation, but this went awry when Nicholas crashed at T13 causing a red flag. We will need to inspect the damage tonight and understand what needs replacing before the race tomorrow.”
“We moved Alex to a backup strategy and again gave him an opportunity to prepare the tyres, which was getting more difficult in the cooler conditions. He pushed hard and had a clean lap, but we were lacking the pace and the tyre grip to progress.”
“We will now look to tomorrow and see if we can make some places as this is likely to be a race of attrition.”
With an unfortunate spin in the braking zone of turn thirteen, Williams will be hoping that the damage to Latifi’s car is minimal, in order to focus on the race tomorrow.