Williams Formula 1 driver Alex Albon has explained why the team’s form across the Mexico Grand Prix weekend appeared to fluctuate dramatically from session to session.
The Thai-British kicked off the event by running second fastest in first practice, lapping only 0.095 seconds shy of pacesetter and eventual race winner Max Verstappen. He then classified only 14th in FP2.
In final practice on Saturday morning, Albon again troubled the lead Red Bull. He was 0.07s adrift of Verstappen to finish second, but again fell back to 14th in qualifying before racing to two points in ninth place.
Albon reckoned track temperature was the main factor behind these peaks and troughs all weekend.
He explained: "I was surprised, the pace [in the race] was not that strong. It was OK.
"I think a lot of that just comes down to the temperature of the day, the track was hot just like qualifying. We struggled when the track gets hot.
"So, there was a lot of management and in the race, I was having to manage too much to make the tyres last and that was affecting the lap time."
The asphalt was recorded at 52 degrees Celsius at the start of the race before falling to 45 degrees. That compared to 44 degrees in FP3, which climbed to 47 degrees for the start of qualifying.
Expanding on his struggles, Albon continued: "Purely the tyres and the temperature. We know we have quite a sensitive car.
"We know we slide around a little bit more than other cars, which means when it gets hot, it creates a bit more temperature.
"The race is a bit easier because everyone is managing. Obviously in a short run, if you're managing, you're just going to be slow. So, we had the same problem as qualifying, but we made it work."
Williams head of vehicle performance Dave Robson also partially blamed temperature rises for Albon missing a Q3 shot on Saturday, adding that traffic management had further hurt in a marginal session.
Robson said that he was "quite surprised" by the size of the deficit created by the heat.
He continued: "It has been an interesting and topsy-turvy weekend. We didn't expect to be strong here and at times we surprised ourselves. After a difficult qualifying session, we raced extremely well.
"We definitely hit the ground running in terms of the set-up, the tyres were in a good window on Friday and again in FP3. We don't measure anything massively different but very small changes seems to make the difference."