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Albon says F1 ‘lucky’ after Turkish GP qualifying

Mat Coch

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Sunday 15th November, 2020 - 3:03am

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Alex Albon

Red Bull’s Alex Albon has suggested Formula 1 was fortunate to escape a wet qualifying session for the Turkish Grand Prix without major incident.

Albon qualified fourth fastest in the scheduled 60-minute session which was twice interrupted by red flags and ultimately ran to almost two hours.

The treacherous conditions saw drivers struggling to stay on the road, with both Romain Grosjean and Nicholas Latifi spinning out in the first phase of the three-part session.

In the case of the latter, the Williams left the road at Turn 8 in the final seconds of the session and drew doubled waved yellow flags.

The car was then still being retrieved by marshals as the field was released to begin Qualifying 2.

“I think we’ve been lucky not to have a big crash today,” Albon asserted.

“We’ve had some close calls obviously, coming into Turn 3.

“I enjoy difficult weather, I enjoy difficult conditions, I enjoy when there’s more to it than than a normal weekend, but at the same time, this is most probably a step towards (being) excessively dangerous, really.

“That wasn’t very good,” he added of the incident involving the retrieval of Latifi’s car.

“I imagined that we were trying to make sunset and we rushed everything, but that was silly.

“I’m sure we could have waited another five minutes for a crane to move.”

Jules Bianchi lost his life after colliding with a recovery vehicle during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

Since then procedures have been revised, making the Latifi incident especially noteworthy.

Albon driver suggested a mix up between the marshals and race control had taken place.

“I think there must have been some misjudgement between them, because there’s no way they did it on purpose,” the Thai driver ventured.

“I mean, it was just hard to understand where the decision came from, because the crane was still on track, lifting Latifi, and we got the call out to go on to the track and wait at the end of the pit lane.

“I was expecting like a five minute signal, but it was one minute to go to green.

“I was like, okay, they must have moved that crane pretty quickly, but obviously it didn’t have enough time.”

The slippery conditions made for an engaging qualifying session in which Red Bull looked set to dominate.

The changeable weather produced a mixed up grid, with drivers visibly struggling to keep their car pointing in the right direction.

“I could tell you it’s not as fun in the car as it is on TV,” Albon said.

“When you’re shifting to sixth gear, even seventh gear in the wet, and you’re getting wheelspin and the car is aquaplaning across the track, that’s not very fun.”

Together with team-mate Max Verstappen, Albon had been the only other driver to dip below the two-minute marker in the opening phase of qualifying.

He was then comfortably second quickest in Q2, again trailing the sister car, before slipping to fourth after Racing Point improved in Qualifying 3.

“It felt good until Q3, I struggled to get the tyres working, I think compared to other cars out there, especially on the extremes,” Albon reasoned.

“It was quite nice to drive, obviously following other cars, you can tell how difficult it was for some teams.

“Then come to Q3 once the inters came on; to be fair, I think we most probably saw it coming a little bit on that Q1 run, a couple of cars and I would say only really Racing Point and maybe Lando, were the only ones who could actually get a time out of the inters.

“We had to box straight away, and put the extremes on, and it was the same thing when I went out in Q3, it was the same problem where I just couldn’t switch them on.

“It’s kind of that thing, literally like one lap to the next you feel a peak of grip, but it never really came.

“So a bit frustrating, because obviously the whole weekend has been looking pretty strong, and I’ve been happy with how it’s been going.

“So, to be P4, is in one respect worse than it should have been.”

The Turkish Grand Prix gets underway at 21:10 AEDT this evening.

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