Confidence, wind direction behind Albon’s standout Dutch GP qualifying

Alex Albon believes his best qualifying performance for Williams was down to both his confidence in the car and the direction of the wind at the Dutch Grand Prix.

Williams has looked quick all weekend and got both cars into Q3, with Albon fastest in Q1 and going on to qualify in fourth place, despite stating on Thursday that Zandvoort is in the bottom fifth of tracks on the calendar for the team. When tasked with how to explain Williams’ stunning pace, Albon stated: “I don’t!

“We’ve been good in FP1, good in FP2, good in FP3. There was an element that we thought we were going to start slipping back… The car felt good the first lap we drove in FP1, and normally when that happens, the others start to really chip away at it, get their car in their window. I just felt like, ‘Oh, maybe we’ve hit our sweet spot early.’


“We didn’t really play too much with the car since FP1, and it made me feel confident. Then when you add confidence with a track like this, which is so narrow, so uncompromising, and at the same time, mixed conditions — wet, dry, that kind of thing — you really just need to feel at one with the car, and I have done this weekend.

“I think when you have these kind of conditions, it’s not always about peak downforce, it’s about having a car that’s drivable and on the limit. Our car has been all weekend. That’s my explanation. It’s also no secret that we’re not normally good at high downforce circuits. We also think about Spa or Monza or something like that. For me, that’s the unanswered bit.”

Albon says the direction of the wind also played a big part in the competitive level Williams enjoyed, as it hasn’t emphasized a weakness.

“The one explanation I do have — there’s been a really, really nice headwind in a lot of these corners. Turn 9, Turn 11 have always been terrible corners for us, corners where we’ve been losing 0.2s… With a headwind, we’re almost…a little bit slower, but really not much — half a tenth maybe. I think that’s helped us a lot more than normal. We actually drove this wind on the simulator; we do play around with it. We knew this wind was good for our car, [and] we got it, which is nice.”

Williams also targeted a more balanced downforce level, having been trying to maximize its straight-line speed at other venues, but Albon says any talk of a podium challenge from the second row is premature.

“I think our race pace was respectable in FP2, but it definitely wasn’t top tier. All the top tier teams are around us. There’s no driver that can hold them up. They’re all directly behind me, so it’s going to be a tough race.”

Story originally appeared on Racer