Albon, Piastri, Bottas, and Magnussen’s First Lap Rollercoaster
In a dramatic opening lap at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Alexander Albon humorously compared the damage to his Williams’ front wing to the aftermath of a dog attack. A tense three-abreast situation unfolded between Albon, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, culminating in a narrow left-hand turn collision. Despite the chaos and damage sustained, Albon, Bottas, and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen persevered, showcasing their resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity.
Alexander Albon commented that his Williams’ front wing appeared as though a dog had “gnawed it off” following a collision at the beginning of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
During the first lap, the Williams racer found himself alongside McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas as they entered turn two. The incident led to Albon and Piastri making contact, which was acknowledged but did not result in a penalty. Meanwhile, Haas’s Kevin Magnussen collided with Bottas from behind at the narrow left-hand turn.
Albon finished in 12th place, right behind Piastri, the same position he began the race. Magnussen trailed closely in 13th, while Bottas completed the race in a lapped 18th place with his damaged Alfa Romeo.
Albon recounted the three-abreast situation involving Piastri and Bottas, stating that he didn’t think anyone was at fault. He explained that he couldn’t move further to the left without hitting the inside wall, and the incident didn’t seem to compromise anyone’s race.
However, Albon did suffer some damage to his front wing and lost his endplate, resulting in slightly compromised aerodynamics for the remainder of the race. The contact caused his front wing endplate to come off “instantly,” leading to a loss of front load during the first stint.
When Albon pitted, a set-up adjustment helped mitigate the issue, particularly on a track with multiple long straights. For the second stint, the team decided to “overdo” the front wing angle. Albon jokingly remarked that the wing looked as if a dog had chewed it off and mentioned they would need to check for any load issues.
Bottas disclosed that his car went into anti-stall when he slowed down to avoid the incident and was subsequently hit by Magnussen. Bottas recalled seeing the McLaren approaching and making contact, which triggered the anti-stall, forcing him to engage the clutch before being struck from behind.
Bottas mentioned that he sustained damage to the diffuser due to the side and rear impacts, causing some parts to hang off. However, he conceded that even without the damage, his pace during the race was not particularly impressive.
Magnussen admitted that he was too close to react when Bottas slowed down in front of him. Nevertheless, the Haas driver believed that the damage he sustained was mostly inconsequential.
Magnussen stated that their pace was competitive throughout the race. Despite being in 13th place and having front-end damage, he was still faster than the driver ahead of him, at least initially. As the race progressed, however, his front tires began to deteriorate.
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