The Grove team switched its R&D focus to next year’s some months ago and had not brought any new parts to the track, while rivals AlphaTauri, Haas and Alfa Romeo have continued to develop their cars.

In the last two races, AlphaTauri has scored 11 points and jumped from 10th to eighth in the table, and the team now lies 12 points behind Williams.

Albon accepts that there remains a chance that the Faenza outfit could close the gap over the last three weekends of the season.

"I think the threat is very real,” said Albon when asked by about AlphaTauri’s surge in the fight for seventh place. 

“They put on their upgrade, and I think straight away made a big step, and at the same time, they seemed to unlock it more and more through the year.

“So they've overtaken us in terms of pace, that it's pretty clear. They've gone to a couple of tracks, and I think this track will be another example, that suits their car quite well. They seem to be very strong in low-speed corners. So it's going be tough.

“The last few races are more about holding on than anything else. But you don't want to have that mindset. You still want to be aggressive and push on. But it will be tricky.”

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04, Alex Albon, Williams FW45, Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23

Despite the apparent change in the late-season pecking order, Albon maintained that he still has faith in the decision to look towards 2024.

“We've taken the choice to just stop upgrading our car since we put on the upgrade, which was in Canada,” he said. 

“And so for us, a lot of it's now about next year. Of course, it would be a shame to lose out to P7. But I still think it's the right thing to do.

"We still have a competitive car, even if it's not as competitive, let's say, or it sounds weird to say it, but it's a little bit old, even though it's four months old or whatever it is!”

Albon took encouragement from the last race in Mexico, where his ninth place helped to cancel out two of the six points that AlphaTauri's Daniel Ricciardo secured for seventh.

“Mexico is a really good example of what we need to do for the rest of the year,” he said. “We need to take advantage of opportunities when they come.

“I felt like in Mexico we executed everything as well as we could have done, to the point where we only missed out by four points to Daniel instead of six, if we didn't score points.

“Races like that are basically what's made our season so far. And we're going to have to continue to do that for the rest of the year."