‘I went to brake and there was nothing there’ – Albon reflects on difficult opening day in Brazil
Red Bull’s Alex Albon was sitting pretty at the top of the timesheets in FP1 when, with five minutes of the session to go, he spun into the Turn 12 barriers – a crash that left the Thai driver feeling a little sheepish when he faced the media at the end of Friday.
Having set the fastest time in the largely wet FP1 session on intermediate tyres, Albon was part of a bevy of drivers who, with the track drying out, made the call to switch to slicks in the final moments of the session.
But after both his team mate Max Verstappen and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat suffered spins, Albon then lost his RB15 going into Turn 12, slewing meekly across the grass and into the wall – and leaving his mechanics’ lunchbreak in tatters.
“Just a cold track obviously,” was Albon’s explanation. “You tiptoe around and you lose brake temperature, and that’s pretty much what happened. I went to brake and there was nothing there.
“It’s one of those things and I think it happened on the worst part of the track.”
On his first visit to Interlagos, Albon then endured a tough FP2 as well, flat-spotting his soft tyres on his qualifying simulation run, and meaning he ended the session P9, behind a Haas, a Renault and an Alfa Romeo.
“It’s okay – I haven’t done a really clear run,” Albon replied when asked how his FP2 had gone. “I had a flat spot straight away on the option tyres and that was that really, so we’ll have a look and we’ll try and get a good idea for tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, barring his FP1 spin and some brief engine braking worries in FP2, Verstappen – a near-winner here last year before he tangled with Esteban Ocon – had a better time of it, beating both Mercedes cars in FP2 to wind up third, just 0.134s off Sebastian Vettel’s leading time.
But with rain and cold weather having affected Friday’s running, the Dutchman was circumspect about jumping to conclusions based on the day’s results.
“I can’t really tell you where we are exactly,” said Verstappen, “but also I don’t think it matters a lot because tomorrow will be different.
“It’s [been] a bit of a messy day really with the weather, and I think it’s not really representative with temperatures and stuff, track and ambient, so I think we just have to look at the positives.
“The car’s working well. Of course there are always things you can improve but it was a positive start and we’ll start over again tomorrow because it will be different.”
Verstappen will be hoping for another strong race performance in Interlagos this weekend as he looks to get after Charles Leclerc’s third place in the drivers’ standings, a position he’s currently 14 points adrift from with just two races left to run this season.