Williams Racing’s Alex Albon struggled with tyre degradation throughout the Belgian Grand Prix, citing the effect of FW44’s low downforce set-up through the twisty second sector of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps as the primary culprit.
Albon had a strong start from his starting position of sixteenth, which propelled him into the points positions. He would remain in the top ten for the first half of the race, but when the tyre issues set in, he slid back down the order.
In the end, Albon finished the race in fourteenth place after taking three pit stops rather than the expected two, and having to carefully manage his tyres, particularly in the middle stints on the medium compound.
“I had a good start today; however, I was almost surprised I fell out of the points in the mid stint, but I was just struggling so much with degradation. The whole weekend was tricky, and the race was just the same. We’re running low downforce, which is fun but going through sector two, it degs the tyres so much.
“The amount of deg was a bit of a wakeup call, particularly on that Medium tyre. I was having to over-push the tyre to stay in front in sector two and as soon as I tried to manage the tyre, I was immediately under fire from cars behind, so it’s a vicious cycle.”
Albon is optimistic about their chances at the next round, the Italian Grand Prix, with Autodromo Nazionale Monza being a high speed venue that is better suited to low-downforce runners. Overall, he hopes that the team can learn from this weekend and prevent such struggles from occurring in the future.
“I think we need to go away and work out why we struggled so much this weekend, as at the end of the day, this downforce is going to be similar to Monza and that’s our next occasion to likely score points. We’ll need to make sure we learn from this weekend, so when we come back to tracks that suit us, we don’t have this problem again.”
“It was a tough day for both of us” – Logan Sargeant
Team-mate Logan Sargeant finished seventeenth after also having trouble with tyre degradation and being undercut by several competitors after the first pit window. In part due to the timing of that first stop, he lost out on the several positions he made up in the opening laps and wasn’t able to recover on the medium tyre from there.
“It was a really good first 4 or 5 laps. I think we left that first stop too late and pretty much got undercut from where we were to the back, so that was a bit disappointing. Once we were on the Medium tyre, we really struggled with degradation and I don’t think it helped where we came out, as we came straight out into a fight.”
Sargeant echoed Albon’s sentiments, having said that the team will need to review this weekend and figure out where they can improve when the team comes back from Summer shutdown and is ready to take on the remainder of the season.
“It was a tough day for both of us, so [we] need to go away and look at why this happened. This weekend obviously hasn’t panned out how we expected, so it’s disappointing but we’ll regroup, take this break and come back refreshed and ready for more.”