Alex Albon was left scratching his head after qualifying in Sochi, the Red Bull driver puzzled by the 1.1s gap conceded to teammate Max Verstappen.
Albon rounded off the top-ten in Q3, 1.704s adrift from poleman Lewis Hamilton, but the British-Thai racer was especially focused on his performance relative to Verstappen.
Asked where he was losing out on his teammate, Albon couldn’t pinpoint an exact sector or corner.
“I’m not too sure to be honest,” he said. “I’m just trying to look at it right now.
“It didn’t feel terrible in Q1 and Q2, it just seemed like people around made a jump and I didn’t really have it. It didn’t feel like I had much left to be honest.
“So, a little bit of head-scratching going on because the laps I did didn’t feel terrible.
“Of course, there are still places, a couple of tenths to find here and there. But obviously the gap is quite big so it’s a bit confusing and some work to do.”
Read also: Verstappen: Run to P2 ‘one of my best qualifying laps’ ever
Albon nevertheless singled out a change of the conditions around the track between FP3 and qualifying, with the wind picking up and temperatures falling by a few degrees.
“The wind changed quite a lot from final practice to qualifying,” he said. “There was that storm that was coming in and it basically spun the wind 180 degrees.
“I’d say by Q2 everyone’s most probably on it in terms of adapting from how the wind is. Obviously these cars are hyper-sensitive to wind, but by Q2 it was more or less all all done.
“But it was tricky out there. Obviously the main thing for me, or I’m sure for everyone, is this track is extremely thermal.
“Because the corners are so close to each other, the track itself is very smooth but very prone to overheating with the tyre compounds we have,” he added.
“It’s kind of like a quali lap where you drive really on the limit without sliding the tyres. And that’s the tricky part.
“Obviously, if you have a little snap early in the lap, you pay the consequence the whole way through.
“So it’s one of those tricky circuits where the lap can either fall away very quickly or you hook it up.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said that traffic had likely also played a part in Albon’s performance.
“Alex did a good job to get himself comfortably into Q3 and then unfortunately he was just at the wrong end of the group at the end of the session,” said Horner.
“It was so tight out there that a couple of tenths would have made things look very different for him, but we have a good race car and we all know he can overtake, so we will definitely see some action from him tomorrow.”
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