Alex Albon has praised the FIA and F1 race control for its “communication” since Pierre Gasly’s near-miss with a tractor in terrible race conditions at the 2022 Japan Grand Prix. The Frenchman came within two meters of the tractor during a safety car, bringing back the pain and memories of Jules Bianchi’s tragic passing on the same track in 2014.
Bianchi collided with the rear of a tractor crane that was removing Adrian Sutil’s Sauber and he spent nine months in a coma before passing. Gasly feared that he too could’ve suffered the same fate as his childhood friend.
“I think they have [learned their lesson],” Williams driver Albon exclusively told Daily Express US Sport ahead of the 2023 Japan Grand Prix, where conditions are not set to repeat from last year. “There’s been a definite understanding from race control and the FIA about how tricky it is. Truthfully, the main issue that started was because only we the drivers could experience how bad it actually was.
“People watching through a TV, including the FIA and the race directors as that’s what they see as well, saw quite a safe track when in actual reality when you’re in the mist and you can’t see anything around you, it’s a different story. There’s been really good communication since Japan  about the spray and the general visibility in these new generations of cars.”
Albon added: “I think there’s still work to be done and we’re still going through tests throughout the year to try and improve visibility. So, you can see all the actions that are taking place are positive. We haven’t found a real solution yet but in the meantime, we’re erring on the side of caution as we don’t want situations like last year to happen again.”
The Williams driver is hoping to maintain momentum heading into Japan having already collected 21 points in 2023, helping his team sit seventh in the constructors’ championship. Albon narrowly missed out on championship points last weekend in Singapore with an 11th-placed finish.
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A collision with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was the cause for the Williams straight-line rocket to drop down the pecking order. Perez attempted an overtake late on at Turn 13 and clattered into Albon’s Williams.
Three teams are hot on Williams’ heels, though, in the bid for seventh. Hass, Alfa Romeo, and AlphaTauri are all pushing, with the latter bringing a significant upgrade package last weekend.
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