Williams’ Alex Albon believes that ‘five or six’ stops in the Spanish Grand Prix might have been the quicker strategy after his tyres fell away at an alarming rate last weekend.
One of the main concerns for the teams throughout the weekend in Barcelona was the heat causing extensive damage to the tyres, and it led Sebastian Vettel to say that he was driving at “Formula 2” pace just to keep his tyres in check during his two-stop strategy.
The offset strategy for the German helped from P16 to P11 in the race, but Albon was far less fortunate with his rubber.
Having started P18 just ahead of team-mate Nicholas Latifi, the 26-year-old was passed fairly early on by the Canadian, and had to make four stops because his tyres fell away so quickly.
He even finished behind Kevin Magnussen, whose Haas had picked up a lot of damage following contact with Sir Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap.
The former Red Bull driver eventually ended the race 18th and last of the classified runners.
He told Ted Kravitz before the race had even started that he was suffering from heavy degradation on the laps to the grid, and it did not get any better from there.
“It was the same in the race,” said Albon, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“It was a four-stop, we could have done a five or a six-stop, and it would’ve only been a bit quicker.
“There was just incredible degradation, I think I was 20 kph slower than everyone else in Turn 3 and Turn 9, and just struggling out there.
“We’re not normally that bad. I think there was something [on the car], I think we need to check because I don’t think it was normal. We’ll have a look.”
Brilliant strategies – including a 57-lap stint on Hards in Australia – helped Albon to the points in both Melbourne and Miami – but the tyre degradation was so bad in Catalunya that such a result was not possible.
“I was driving as slow as I could and the tyres were still going off, and not just a little bit,” added the Thai-Brit.
“I was driving my first three laps 2.5-3 seconds slower than I would do normally, and still degrading massively. I was losing seconds straight away after the first lap.
“So it was a bit strange, and as I said, it was not normal. The deg was high and we expected that, but what we had today was a bit strange.”
Albon can only theorise that there was an issue with the car to cause such abrasion on the tyres.
“Our pace has been pretty good this year,” he explained.
“I think there was an actual issue with the car. I don’t know if it was debris or something, but we’ll have a look at it.”
Fernando Alonso’s points score at his home race last weekend puts him back in front of Albon for 15th in the Drivers’ Championship.
Williams, meanwhile, are still rooted to 10th and last in the constructors’ conversation.