While all eyes were on the frontrunners at the Singapore GP, it was easy to miss the late-stage incident between Alex Albon and Sergio Perez at the lower end of the points scoring positions that saw Perez receive a +5 second time penalty and a penalty point on his license. It was an incident that drove Albon to call Perez “f******* dirty,” over the radio.
Williams stopped Albon for new tyres under the Virtual Safety Car, much like Mercedes. He was in 10th and looked likely to overtake Liam Lawson in P9 on fresher tyres before Perez made contact with the Williams through the tight left-hander that is Turn 13.
“He’s just so f****** dirty,” Albon said over the radio. “He [Perez] tried to do that move to me two or three times before and I had to miss him. I had to pull out last time to stop him from hitting me.
“So sorry, but I can’t do that every single time he tries to take a lunge and take avoiding action. I thought he would have this one under control, but he didn’t.”
Albon recovered to 11th but Williams team principal, James Vowles, believed Albon would have passed Lawson and moved up to 8th when George Russell hit the wall on the final lap.
Perez, contrary to the Stewards, doesn’t believe he did anything wrong, that it was just a racing incident.
“With the Alex incident, there was nothing there,” Perez said. “It was just a racing incident.”
He pointed to an earlier incident in which he claims that Albon overtook him under Safety Car conditions, but the Williams driver wasn’t penalised for that.
“Also with the Safety Car, I was ahead of him and Alex overtook me under the Safety Car,” Perez explained, “but the system is not good enough so they couldn’t tell at the time that I was ahead.
“It’s how things are.”
Vowles: "There Are Sensible Ways of Overtaking"
There are only seven races left, and with Williams sitting seventh in the Constructors’ with 21 points, every point counts. Haas are right behind them on 12 points, followed by Alfa Romeo on 10, and AlphaTauri on five. Each place represents millions of dollars in prize money so taking advantage of opportunities like those presented in Singapore is paramount to these teams.
“Quite a few points on the table were taken away,” Vowles told the media.
“It is frustrating that when you’re in a championship that’s being fought down to the point, and you’re leading against your direct rivals in this championship, to have it taken away from you hurts.
“And without good reason either. It was a lunge – there are sensible ways of overtaking and that wasn’t the way to do it.
“For a number of laps prior Perez was very much on the inside and trying to put his nose there. That in itself isn’t a problem, you’ve got to do aggressive techniques.
“But Alex had already committed to the turn-in point. And it’s overlapping at the back and it was contact into the sidepod. There was no way that was going to work.
“So it’s incredibly frustrating. You are into fine, fine margins. And this could be what decides the championship positions.”
Despite all that, Williams is happy that despite their historical predictions, the Marina Bay Circuit didn’t hurt their performance. This suggests that their car may be good at other circuits they hadn’t initially thought would present opportunities.
“If you look back at the history of this team, we haven’t had cars in Q2 in Singapore since 2016,” Vowles said. “So actually, the problems are more fundamental in what we’re doing as a base.
“I think we will be competitive again, although perhaps not Zandvoort level. There is opportunity, but in both directions, lots of opportunity for others to get a very good score, or us to walk away with more points.
“What I believe it is if you look at the progress we’ve made as a team, we’re now going to most race with Williams as a car that can score points.”