Qualifying at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was just as frantic and chaotic as it always has been at the Baku City Circuit, something which wasn’t helped by a red flag with just under three minutes remaining in Q1.
Lance Stroll crashed into the barrier at Turn 2 with just a few minutes remaining on the clock, resulting in a mad dash at the end of the opening session.
When the session resumed, fifteen cars attempted to improve their lap-time and avoid an embarrassing Q1 elimination.
Unfortunately for Alex Albon, he was one of the unlucky drivers to be eliminated from Q1 but under controversial circumstances.
The Thai driver had to bail out of his final lap, after Fernando Alonso ahead went off at Turn 15.
This brought out the yellow flag which meant any driver behind Alonso had to slow down, with Albon being one of those.
The Williams Racing driver was 0.241s behind Valtteri Bottas in 15th when the incident occurred; Albon was furious during his post-qualifying media session.
The Thai driver accused Alonso of “playing the system”, and wants to see a rule change brought in to punish drivers who cause yellow flags in the Saturday session.
“I’ll leave it for you to decide,” began Albon.
“Have a look, and comment later. I just think it would be a good idea if we had a rule change where people who create yellow flags or red flags get their laptimes deleted.
“I know we’ve talked about this previously [most recently in Monaco]. But it doesn’t put any penalty on the driver who makes a mistake, and I think, there are games, of course there are games….
“It is one of those things. I’m not angry at Fernando, he’s a smart guy and he plays the system well.”
Alonso went on to qualify 10th, giving him a great chance of scoring points at what is usually a highly unpredictable race, Albon on the other hand has to start from 17th.
Following qualifying, the Alpine F1 Team driver was asked about the Q1 incident.
The double World Champion explained that he was suffering from “hot brakes”, resulting in the mistake that many drivers have done all weekend.
“There was a lot of smoke on the brakes even when I stopped [in the garage],” said Alonso.
“Everyone complains when there is a yellow flag, but I don’t think that today that corner was the easiest corner to negotiate. I went off, yes, I was with the old tyres, yes.
“Sebastian tried to make the corner and touched the wall. The McLarens [were] undecided to make the corner and then they took the escape road as I did.
“I mean, it was a lot of frustration, I think, for everybody at the end of Q1, with two minutes and a half and a queue of 15 cars trying to open the lap. I understand them but for sure it was a mistake that can happen for everyone.”