The third round of the 2022 FIA Formula One season brings the long-awaited return to racing in Melbourne’s Albert Park as the Williams team heads down under for the Australian Grand Prix. The temporary 5.303km track running around the Albert Park lake presents an exciting challenge for drivers and cars, offering a formidable low surface grip and unyielding walls.
Alex Albon finished 10th and Nicholas Latifi 16th in the Australian Grand Prix
Alex started the race 20th on the hard Pirelli tyre, whilst Nicholas started 18th on the medium compound
Alex pulled off a bold one-stop strategy, running an impressive 56 laps on the hard tyre before stopping for the soft compound on the penultimate lap of the race
Nicholas pitted twice, making his first stop for hard compounds on lap 13, before taking a final new set on lap 23
Jost Capito, CEO & Team Principal:
To get a point early in the season is good for the team and I’m extremely happy for everyone – the team deserved this. We’ve had a difficult start to the season, and even yesterday was difficult, but that’s the good thing about racing – things can change on Sunday and it’s not over until it’s over. If you keep pushing and always stay motivated, keep the team alive and believing in itself, then fortunes can change.
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance:
Alex drove brilliantly today and found a sweet spot on the Prime tyre, which gave him good pace and, crucially, much less degradation than many other cars. He completed a very long stint and we ignored several opportunities to pit under safety cars, hoping that something might happen to allow us to keep as many of the gains as possible. In the end, the degradation of cars behind and difficulty in overtaking gave us a small opportunity to run until the very end and pull a gap big enough for a pitstop. Under huge pressure, the pit crew were very good, and Alex was quick enough on the out-lap to secure tenth place. After the ups and downs of the previous two days, this was an excellent result for the entire team.
Nicholas had a more difficult race following a very different strategy than Alex. We wanted to spend a lot of the race on the Prime tyre with both cars, but we chose to get Nicky’s Option stint done early in the race rather than put him on the riskier strategy that Alex followed. Nicky found the opening stint on the Option difficult and showed degradation like most of the field. His pace on the Prime was better, but he still couldn’t quite match the degradation of Alex. We need to understand if differences in the car and driving style contributed to this, and this will be the main focus of our work as we prepare for the next race in Imola.
Congratulations Alex and Williams
Our full congratulations go out to Alex on this awesome result, scoring not only his points for himself and the Williams Racing team but also showing that the Williams is improving and does have some pace.
Congratulations from everyone at Phuket Island Radio.
Alex went on to say:-
I am very pleased with how today went.
We came in this morning, looked at our race predictions starting from last and felt pretty sad, so to end Sunday with a point is extremely rewarding.
It was a race where we took risks and really allowed our tyres to get into a nice window, and from then they just felt better and better.
I was putting in what felt like continuous qualifying laps for the last 25 laps of the race! For me, it really highlights the work that’s been done at the factory and at the track; this is the result of the team’s determination and motivation.
It’s been a great day and I’m really happy to have played my part in this for the team.
It was definitely a tricky race, but we were expecting that after the FP2 high fuel running that we did. It seemed that we struggled with the tyres quite a lot, experiencing graining on both compounds and struggling to keep them in the right window. There was a lot going on with multiple safety cars and Virtual Safety Car periods.
It was great to see Alex finish P10 in the end and I’m super happy for the whole team. It’s been a difficult start to the season and there’s still a lot to find on my side. If Alex is able to extract that performance out of the FW44 then there’s no reason why we can’t in the other car.
We will now spend a lot of time looking through the data and understanding how we can make it work.
Melbourne is the home to the Australian Grand Prix.
Fri, Apr 8 – Practice – More Photos and updates
Sat, Apr 9 – Quali – Quotes interviews and Photos
Sun, Apr 10 – Race – Driver and team quotes even more Photos
AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING
• Alex Albon qualified 16th and Nicholas Latifi 19th for the Australian Grand Prix
• Alex’s fastest time, a 1:20.135, was set on his penultimate lap whilst running the soft Pirelli tyre
• Nicholas set a quickest lap of 1:21.372 on the soft compound tyre before an incident with Lance Stroll ended his Qualifying session
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance:
It was a frustrating afternoon for us having made some good progress with the car overnight and again during FP3. We know that getting into Q2 is a challenge for us currently and we need to get everything right to have a chance. The session was going well, and the tyres were working well.
Alex was making steady progress with each pushing lap and had one attempt remaining when the session was red-flagged. He was in a good position and had prepared his tyres well and so it is a shame that we didn’t get to see the final result. When the session restarted, we knew that there wasn’t time for everyone to get a final lap in and so we chose to queue in the pit lane to guarantee a good track position. The price we pay for this is loss of tyre temperature, but we had little to lose at this point.
Sadly, the congested track and the cooler tyres meant that Alex could not improve, but it was a valiant effort in the circumstances. We had to stop Alex on his in-lap as he approached the pit entry as we could see a possible problem with the car.
Nicholas was very unlucky to collide with Stroll when preparing his tyres for another fast lap. It appears that Stroll didn’t see that Nicholas had moved alongside to pass him and continue his tyre preparation. We will need to assess the damage tonight, but there will be no problem getting the car ready for the race tomorrow.
It’s frustrating not to make it through to Q2 today. The team have done an amazing job overnight to maximise the performance of the car, so we were in a position to fight for more. We’re finding that we need to do a couple of push laps to get the tyres in the optimum window, and unfortunately, my second lap on the second set of tyres was interrupted by the red flag. I felt like we deserved a bit more today, but it’s all to play for tomorrow.
I’ve seen the video so it’s very clear from my side who is at fault. I let Lance pass as I was told he was on a push lap, which he then must have aborted a corner or so before, which is why he was then going slow.
I needed to carry on with my cool-down lap and pick up the pace again and get my tyre preparation correct. There was a very big gap to overtake him and, when I got alongside, he turned in for whatever reason. The impact itself was very small but, because of the way of the impact it has big consequences. There’s a lot of damage to the car so we’ll have to see what the guys can do and I know we have one of the best teams for that. This is the last thing I would have wanted; the goal here was to have a clean weekend and so this is extremely frustrating.
Stay tuned there’s more to come on Sunday.
Update from AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX PRACTICE Friday 8th April
Alex Albon: It’s a cool circuit here in Melbourne; the track is a lot of fun to drive and the fans have been incredible. Today could have gone a little better, but we made a good step up between FP1 and FP2 so we’re going in the right direction and we know what we need to focus on. We’ll continue the work tonight, and hopefully, we’re in a stronger place for Qualifying tomorrow.
Nicholas Latifi: It was a pretty fun first day getting to experience the Albert Park track as it’s my first time driving here. It’s very fast, especially where they’ve made changes to the track; it’s got a street track vibe in some corners, and a little more technical than I was expecting, but I think lap by lap we were gaining confidence. Still, a lot of gains are to be made with driving and the car. Hopefully, we’ll make some good changes overnight to put us in a better position for tomorrow.
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: Preview Cont:
Not being at Albert Park for two years has been a real shame, and we are so pleased to be back and sampling the new circuit layout. Racing again in Melbourne is a fantastic indication of a progressive return to pre-pandemic normality. Traditionally, the street circuit nature of Melbourne has made for a tremendous technical and physical challenge for the drivers but also led to difficulty in overtaking. The revisions to the layout and DRS zones should improve this, potentially making the Australian Grand Prix one of the very best circuits on the Formula One calendar.
With the removal of the old Turn 9/Turn 10, there is one fewer chicane in the layout, but direction changes at low and high speeds still dominate the circuit. The much faster section between Turn 8 and Turn 11 will alter the trade of downforce and drag, but with driver confidence also at a premium, taking off too much downforce could be detrimental, and we can expect to see all teams experimenting on Friday. Therefore, braking stability, kerb riding, and car agility remain critical to the car setup.
Adding to the complexity of the Australian Grand Prix weekend is a courageous compound choice from Pirelli, with the C2 and C3 compounds being the Prime Option as they were in Jeddah, but C5 being the Qualifying compound here in Melbourne. This may place significantly different demands on the car setup for qualifying and the race. Still, this compromise could be crucial with no opportunity to change the configuration on Saturday night.
Following our difficult weekend in Jeddah, we are looking forward to a clean event here as we look to extract a little more potential from the FW44. The challenges here are different to those in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, so that we will be open-minded and pragmatic with our approach.
Australian Grand Prix preview with Nicholas Latifi:
Nicholas Latifi: I’m excited to get my first taste of racing at Albert Park. I’ve not yet driven there with Formula One, although I did get to explore the venue in 2020, and I thought Melbourne was an incredible place. The circuit itself looks fun, so experiencing the whole event will be great. The new track changes look promising; I hope it’ll improve the racing, so we can put on an exciting Grand Prix for the fans after they’ve waited for so long.
Alex Albon on the Australian Grand Prix
Melbourne is a very cool city, so I’m excited to go back after a long time away. The fans know how to have a good time in Australia which means the atmosphere at Albert Park is always great; I’m sure it’ll be even better after a couple of years without us racing there. There are a lot of changes to the circuit this year, so I’m excited to see how we get on and how the FW44 handles the track. I know the whole team will be hoping to bounce back after a tricky event in Jeddah, so we’ll be pushing hard to maximise performance and do the best we can.
Albert Park Melbourne
The Albert Park Circuit is a motorsport street circuit around Albert Park Lake, three kilometres south of central Melbourne. It is used annually as a circuit for the traditional Formula One Australian Grand Prix, the supporting Supercars Championship Melbourne 400 and other associated support races. The circuit has an FIA Grade 1 license.
Although the entire track consists of normally public roads, each sector includes medium to high-speed characteristics more commonly associated with dedicated racetracks facilitated by grass and gravel run-off safety zones that are reconstructed annually. However, the circuit also has characteristics of a street circuit’s enclosed nature due to concrete barriers annually built along the Lakeside Drive curve, in particular, where run-off is not available due to the proximity of the lakeshore.