Carrying over a grid penalty from Saudi Arabia far causing a collision with Lance Stroll, the Thai driver was penalised again on Saturday when officials were unable to remove the mandatory litre of fuel from his car, meaning that he was disqualified from the session.
Starting from the back of the grid, the Williams driver was one of six starting on the hards.
Though his progress was slow he gradually made his way up the order, and after the main pit stop window was running tenth, though yet to stop himself.
Opting not to pit under the safety car that followed Max Verstappen’s retirement, Albon was now running as high as seventh. Over the course of the remaining laps he managed to stay ahead of the DRS train headed by Esteban Ocon before finally making his mandatory stop on the penultimate lap, emerging from the pits in tenth.
“It just got better and better,” beamed the youngster, “and by the end of it, it felt like qualifying laps for the last 25 laps of the race.
“Obviously it’s completely unexpected,” he admitted, “but it really highlights all the work that’s been done at the factory and here at the track. That’s what determination and motivation… that’s where it gets you.
“It’s been an amazing day,” he grinned, “and I’m glad I could get this result for the team.”
Asked about the strategy, he said: “I thought, ‘Okay well they know something I don’t’. One of the Haas’ boxed in front of me and that was my point where I thought, ‘Okay it’s going to be a tricky race now’, because that DRS was saving me from being overtaken from the pack behind.
“But once we got clear air we just went, we were on much older tyres than the guys around us and we were keeping pace more or less with the McLarens. At the very end pulling away from the Alpines.
“What’s interesting is that C2 tyres really suits our car,” he admitted. “We almost need to understand why because it’s a bit unexpected, clearly this result. Maybe we need to qualify, race, do everything on that tyre. Bring in 10 sets for the whole thing.
“It’s a much needed result,” he added. “I feel like when you have a tough start to the season you want to switch that momentum and have positivity with what you’re doing.
“It’s hard when you don’t get good results, it is a tough time but it motivates me, it motivates the team to get that point on the board and now we’re hungry for more.”
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