The moment McLaren failed with a ‘dummy’ pit-stop over shrewd Williams

Lando Norris was trying to overtake Alex Albon in the Italian GP when McLaren tried something different

Kieran Jackson
Formula 1 Correspondent
Sunday 03 September 2023 19:06 BST
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Williams boss James Vowles was alert and sharp to McLaren’s amusing attempt at subterfuge during Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

Alex Albon, who has been a revelation at Williams this year, was valiantly defending sixth position from McLaren’s Lando Norris, positioning his car perfectly to maintain his place in the order.

Yet McLaren, desperate to pass Albon with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton rapidly chasing behind, tried something different: a ‘dummy’ pit-stop.

James Vowles was alert to McLaren’s amusing attempt at subterfuge (Getty Images)

“Box to overtake,” McLaren told Norris over the team radio, with the British driver responding: “Yeah I’m pushing confirm.”

The papaya team even sent their mechanics into the pit-lane, looking as though they were going to bizarrely pit their driver.

But Williams – and the experienced former Mercedes chief Vowles – were wily and shrewd to the situation, aware that McLaren were merely dummying in an attempt to try and force Williams to pit Albon.

“Heard their dummy and saw their pit lane, I thought ‘if they want to stop they can stop, but I’m not!’” Vowles told Sky F1 afterwards.

“From McLaren’s perspective and Mercedes’ and Alonso, just one foot wrong and all three would’ve got through. We were very concerned about them.

“What saved us was our straight-line speed [today]. We were six or seven kph up on theirs, it was just enough that they couldn’t get through.

Alex Albon was defending from Lando Norris at Monza when McLaren tried something different (Getty Images)

“We make it look easy, at least Alex does. Alex did a sterling job. We don’t quite have that race-pace but we have a driver out there who can get his elbows out and fight for points. That’s what he did today, he did a sterling job.

“Again not a foot wrong. Seventh is just reward, the car pace was slightly behind that but he shone relative to that.”

Ultimately, neither Albon nor Norris could keep Hamilton behind, with the seven-time world champion finishing sixth.

Albon finished seventh – for another impressive six points for Williams – while Norris came home a place behind in eighth.

Max Verstappen won the race – a record-breaking 10th in a row – with Sergio Perez second and Carlos Sainz third.

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