Alex Albon lucky to avoid penalty in Monaco

Alex Albon twice held up Charles Leclerc in Monaco last weekend, with Nicholas Latifi also costing Carlos Sainz time.

Former Formula 1 driver Jolyon Palmer believes that Alex Albon can count himself slightly fortunate that he was not investigated for holding up Charles Leclerc in Monaco.

Leclerc had been brought in by Ferrari at an inopportune moment in changing conditions, and Sergio Perez undercut him as a result, putting him into second place.

Albon had fitted Slicks onto his Williams at a similar time, and Leclerc was coming up to lap the Thai-Briton, but ended up being caught behind him for more than an entire lap.

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In the end, he sailed off the circuit at Sainte-Devote, giving the place to Leclerc.

In the end though this, coupled with the mistimed double stack with Carlos Sainz, cost the Monegasque third to Max Verstappen.

Perez then took the lead away from Sainz after the Spaniard was held up by the other Williams of Nicholas Latifi on his out lap having pitted for Slicks.

The Canadian eventually moved over as they headed into the tunnel, but the time loss allowed Perez to jump the 27-year-old when he too stopped for Slicks.

Palmer does not appear to have so much of an issue with Sainz’s incident with Latifi, but believes that Albon might have been investigated for backing up Leclerc.

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“As [Sainz] exited Sainte-Devote on his out-lap, he was just out-dragged by Nicolas Latifi in the Williams,” he wrote in his column.

“[He then] had to sit behind the backmarker for half a lap until Latifi yielded in the tunnel. This cost Sainz around two seconds of lap time compared to his teammate, who also exited the pits on the same tyres at the same time in the same car.

“It’s therefore feasible to say that, if Sainz was half a second quicker out of the pits, he would have stayed ahead of Latifi and potentially won the Monaco Grand Prix – fine margins cost him.

“Alex Albon had held Charles Leclerc up on his intermediate stint in a prolonged manner, staying ahead for a full lap before making an error and finally releasing the Ferrari. 

“In my opinion, he could have been investigated for that, as Albon clearly didn’t want to drop off-line on his slick tyres, which was probably the right thing to do with Leclerc charging up.

“I think Latifi did get out of the way at a reasonable enough point though. Lapping cars is always tricky in Monaco, particularly when the track is wet off-line and, aside from half a chance into Mirabeau, there wasn’t much else Latifi would be expected to do. It was just one of those things.”

Albon is adamant that he was quicker on his Slicks compared to Leclerc on Intermediates, so he believes the pair would have held each other up more had he let the Ferrari through.

“It’s tricky, because we went out on slicks and had a massive pace advantage,” explained the 26-year-old.

“It would have only taken three corners and I would have been quick enough to overtake him again straight away, so I figured it would be faster for both of us if I just stayed in front.”

As Perez was being chased down by a combination of Sainz, Verstappen and Leclerc, they once again encountered Albon, who again held up Leclerc going into Turn One after letting the other three pass on the home straight, costing the Monegasque more time.

48 laps into the race, the Williams driver retired from the race, culminating what had been a difficult day, but he believes that he was competitive at points, giving him at least some optimism.

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“It was a tricky day out there and a bit of a scruffy performance from my side, too,” explained Albon.

“The conditions meant that getting the brakes in the right window was really challenging, especially with all the variation that a drying track brings and the red flags. 

“The car felt good whenever we had clean air though and I did feel competitive at points, so there are some positives to take away from today.

“Unfortunately, towards the end of the race, I had an issue with the car which meant I had to retire. I think it’s probably a weekend to forget for us, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Perez went on to fend off Sainz to take his first-ever win in the Principality, and his third in F1.