Alex Albon believes he has the car to try and hold onto a top-10 finish in the Belgian Grand Prix after qualifying in sixth place.
Williams has a quick car in a straight line, in part due to its lower levels of downforce compared to most other teams this season, and Albon duly exploited it to reach Q3 on merit, setting the 10th-fastest time in Q2. He ended the final part of qualifying in the same place but grid penalties for Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris promoted him to sixth, and he is targeting points on Sunday.
Alex Albon gets into Q3 for the first time this year 👏
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 27, 2022
“The car has been feeling really good all weekend,” Albon said. “We know we tend to suit the low-downforce circuits. We knew this was a chance to do Q2 but Q3 is a different ballgame.
“I feel we maximized everything today; got the tires in the right window — it’s been tricky with these cars this year — got the right slipstream. We tried something a bit different in Q3 — go by ourselves, which with hindsight was a little bit worse. It feels good.
“It’s a little bit unpredictable as no one has really done a proper race run this weekend, with the weather. Normally our race pace is a little bit stronger than our qualifying pace but I’m not sure starting P6 that’ll be the case.
“So we’ve got to focus on ourselves. This circuit’s not like Monaco or Zandvoort — if you’re quicker you tend to be able to get past the car in front. We have to bear that in mind. We do have a slippery car, which is always going to help us to try and stay in front but regardless it’s going to be a battle.
“When you look at people like Max and Charles I think they’re going to be past everyone in lap five or so, so let’s keep that in mind and try and get some points.”
Albon split the Mercedes pair with his first run in Q3 but dropped behind them on his final lap, but says there could be a chance of getting ahead of George Russell — who he starts alongside — on the opening lap.
“When I looked at George’s time, yeah if we had the slipstream and had the same routine we did in Q1 and Q2 we may have pinched it, but it’s so unpredictable then. We’re in the same boat as Mercedes. What you see in the unpredictability — I mean, I don’t want to speak for them but tires are everything, and little differences that you’re doing in your out laps is making big differences on your push lap.
“So that fine line is very tricky and I think in the race pace when everything settles down, obviously they’re going to be very quick. You never know — actually they’re quite draggy down into Turn 5, so we can see what we can do into there!”