Williams’ Alex Albon says that F1’s new generation of cars have opened the door to more errors from drivers.
Throughout testing in Bahrain, almost all of the drivers have been struggling at the notoriously tricky Turn 10, the downhill left-hander into the hairpin and back straight.
Up and down the grid, drivers have had difficulties making the corner, with Albon even joking there’s now more grip off track than on it.
The 25 year-old said that the new cars and the design philosophy behind them has resulted directly in more driver errors, not helped by windy weather.
“Everyone is going off. I was heading towards the GP2 pit lane! There must be a rubbered-in line out there now, it’s actually quite grippy out there.
“There’s a big tailwind here, which doesn’t help. We’ve got the added weight in the cars naturally. It’s a completely different way to drive to the corner than it was in previous years, quite a different driving style.
“It’s not easy. On our side, I think we all know, on a balance point of view, we can do a better job than we did on on day one, and hopefully help improve that, but in some ways, it’s quite comforting to see everyone else also going off the track.”
Albion was upbeat about Williams’ progression so far but was speaking before Nicholas Latifi’s rear brakes burst into flames, ending running for the morning session at least.
Addressing the main changes from the last generation of car and this one, Albon picked out the different reaction to bumps on track as the primary cause of the issues but that they weren’t the only cause.
The search for lap time is also a constant factor and Albon believes the new car’s limits are tricky to find in the heat of Bahrain.
“We don’t have the loads when you hit the pedal, so it’s a bit harder than just purely approaching the corner. But more than anything, it’s about the bumps. You feel every single bump on the track and that’s what’s hard.
“I saw Lando saying yesterday that you want to push more because as drivers we’re trying to push the entries and trying to get the lap time out of it, but it’s very hard to push, because it’s so easy to lock. It’s very easy to overdrive.
“So you’re kind of always kind of playing with the limits on that until – Turns 9 and 10 is a perfect example – because it’s a very attractive corner to push the entry. But then it’s one of the easiest corners to make a mistake. And that’s where you get these difficulties when you’re braking. And it’s bumpy and the inside wheel is in the air. It’s very hard to control. At the minute, [you need] at least a bit of patience to drive these cars.”
With more margin for error, Albon says that the drivers will now have more opportunity to make a greater difference in performance than in the past.
The Anglo-Thai driver said that particularly early in the season before teams are on top of all the issues, those in the cockpit can play a bigger role.
“I wouldn’t say they are less enjoyable, I just think they’re different. I feel like the driver can play a bigger role and extract the performance because, it feels almost in between the Formula 2 and a Formula 1 in terms of the ride quality and things like that.
“In terms of the racing side, from what I’ve seen so far, it still feels pretty good to follow. I feel like we’re going to have pretty good racing, We have to see but you can see there’s people out there with huge deg. Not as much today but everyone seems to be degrading quite heavily, which will be interesting come the race weekend.
“The characteristics of the regulations, they’re going to play a part into the weekends for sure. It’s always gonna be like that, it’s just how can you drive around the problems? How can the driver help the team having a balanced car?
“From yesterday, we’ve done some setup tweaks and that will continue. We’ll have four or five days after day three to process the information and data and come up with some new ideas. But the good thing is we haven’t started a million miles away. We’re not fighting this massive imbalance, we’re just trying to get the car into a better window. That will just that will just keep on evolving throughout the year.”