Albon enjoys ‘fun’ Baku race but two penalties for Latifi leave him enduring ‘a day to forget’
The two Williams drivers could not have had more contrasting afternoons in Baku on Sunday. While both started down the grid after exiting in Q1, Alex Albon was able to extract plenty of pace from the FW44 as he made strides forward – and even believed points could have been on the cards.
Albon stopped relatively early on under the first Virtual Safety Car to swap from the medium to the hard compound tyre, with the team opting for an aggressive two-stop strategy. But unfortunately for him, his second stop was just three laps before a second Virtual Safety Car, enabling his midfield rivals to gain time.
“It was a fun race here in Baku,” he said afterwards. “We just got a bit unlucky with the VSC timing, otherwise we would have been in a better place to fight for points today, but again our race pace was actually really strong.
“If you look at our pace relative to the midfield it was very strong; we were as quick if not quicker than a lot of cars in front of us.”
While Albon could see some positives from his race, the same couldn’t be said for his team mate. Nicholas Latifi was awarded a 10-second stop-and-go penalty as the lights went out, after a mechanic had touched his car after the 15-second warning had been given before the formation lap.
“Obviously, the penalty kind of undid everything, before it even started really,” said a disappointed Latifi. “It was tricky, you’re so far off… the pack and then you get into blue flags and you get with the leaders very quickly.
“The race ended up being a very long and lonely one. We managed to get more mileage and laps with the car, but overall, a challenging weekend on this track. A day to forget but excited to be heading straight to Canada for my first home race.”
Worse was to come for Latifi, who was later awarded a five-second time penalty for ignoring blue flags when Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri was trying to lap him. The combination of those two penalties meant Latifi couldn’t make as much headway up the order as his team mate, coming home at the back of the field.
The good news for the Canadian is that in his third season of Formula 1, he is finally going to get the chance to compete at a home race, Montreal returning for the first time since 2019.