Qatar Grand Prix 2023 – Qualifying

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: There haven’t really been any major surprises today: we knew that it would be very demanding, and it was! The track was in very poor condition in FP1, which combined with the wind, made it extremely difficult to learn the track and understand how to improve the setup. We made some changes ahead of the Qualifying session and these are now locked-in due to the Parc Fermé regulations.

The track is likely to continue to evolve over the coming days but there is also likely to be a new coating of sand before we run again tomorrow afternoon. Evolving the car balance, tyre management and driving to suit the evolving track will be tricky but we have a few tools at our disposal.

Considering the difficulties of FP1, the drivers did well this evening and delivered most of what the car was capable of. Logan had a very productive day and was unfortunate to get knocked-out of Q1 by Alex. Logan found learning the track reasonably easy despite the conditions in FP1 and was able to improve his setup ahead of qualifying. Alex struggled a little more for rhythm in FP1 but did a good job in qualifying to find a good step. He had to abort his final lap in Q2 following a small mistake. Although he was on for a better laptime, it would’ve been difficult to better his qualifying position.

We have the sprint sessions tomorrow and it will be fascinating to see how each team chooses to approach these in terms of tyre usage and run plans. Our focus tonight is on working out our own best plan for the likely conditions.

Alex Albon: Retracing it, we only did one practice session in which we really struggled with the wind and balance, just finding it difficult to find that sweet spot. It happens with these short weekends; you’ve got to be prepared early and we just struggled, so it’s a bit frustrating. There might be some small changes we can make overnight but nothing that’s going to help us with the wind, which is obviously bad for everyone, but it impacts some cars more than others and we’re one of them unfortunately. Every corner feels different with no rhyme or rhythm, so it’s instinctive driving which is fun but difficult.

Logan Sargeant: It’s been a good day. It’s a step in the right direction and what I needed to do coming into this weekend. The best part about it is we have another chance to do it tomorrow. The disappointment is that I know I had some margin in the high-speed that I found on that second push but unfortunately couldn’t improve but it’s right there. Coming into the weekend not knowing the circuit, I found my feet really quickly which is important. As a team, I’m proud of the way that we’ve progressed through Free Practice, the changes we made for Quali and we had the car in a good window. I got almost everything out of it. There was a little bit more on the table but I’m sure everyone can say the same.

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