Alex Albon rebounds from practice crash to qualify fourth in Bahrain GP

Alex Albon crashed Bahrain
Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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Alex Albon rebounded quickly from a crash in Friday’s Practice 2 to qualify fourth Saturday for the Bahrain GP.

Albon crashed about halfway through the session exiting the final turn of the track after pushing wide off course. Albon was classified ninth at the time, 0.696 seconds off the pace set by teammate Max Verstappen.

The incident came moments after he overtook Pierre Gasly, and the pass might have caused him to take a less than optimum line through the corner.

The damage was enough to require the team to work late into the evening to roll out a new chassis.

It was the type of incident that could shake the confidence of a driver fighting hard to secure his spot with the team for 2021.

But Albon bounced back quickly with the fourth-best time in Practice 3 and a fourth-place qualification run. Albon will line up alongside his Red Bull teammate Verstappen. Meanwhile, their Mercedes rivals swept the front row with Lewis Hamilton earning his 98th career pole, and Valtteri Bottas securing the outside pole.

Alex Albon crashed Bahrain
(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

“You miss out a bit on track time, and of course a little bit of confidence in the beginning of FP3,” Albon said. “But actually the car was good straight away.

“Quali was a little bit more difficult, but just chipping away at it, doing little things throughout the session, and then by [Q3], it was okay. We went out on the softs just to be safe in Q2 which meant we only had one set in Q3, so just to perfect the lap, there’s things I would like to have done.

“But P4, we’re in the mix and hopefully we can have a good start and be in there being a thorn in Mercedes’ backside.”

How long Albon is able to be a thorn is an open question. He was 17 laps into the P2 session when he destroyed the primary car. With the repairs, Albon was unable to make a long run Saturday morning.

“I haven’t done a long run, so we’ll see how that goes tomorrow,” said Albon. “We’ve seen Max’s data and there’s huge deg [tire degradation], unbelievable deg. You already saw it in Q2 when no one wanted to do a lap on the softs, so it will be interesting. Hopefully we can get away from the mid-pack and try and do our own race and upset the Mercs up in front.”