The Australian weekend hadn't start well for Alexander Albon. The Thai driver, who had received a three places grid penalty due to crashing with Lance Stroll in the final race lap at Jeddah, was also disqualified from Saturday's qualifying session as he hadn't been able to provide the 1L fuel sample needed for the post session checks.
However, his weekend took a turn for the best during the race. Albon scored his and Williams's first point of the year by completing an impressive 57 out of the 58 race laps at Albert Park on the hard tyres he had started the race on, ending up in P7 after safety cars and the other drivers pitting.
During the last lap, he pitted for softs and rejoined the race behind Ocon, Bottas and Gasly, but managing to stay ahead of Zhou, which allowed Albon to get the point assigned for tenth place.
The Williams driver talked about his race and how he managed to pull off such an extreme strategy in the post race press conference, highlighting the importance of starting last as it allowed him to save up tyres in the early stages of the race.
"It just got better and better and by the end of it, it felt like qualifying laps for the last 25 laps of the race. Obviously it's completely unexpected, but it really highlights all the work that's been done at the factory and here at the track."
It's Albon's first time back in the points since his final race for Red Bull in 2020 after spending last year as a reserve driver for the Austrian team and competing in DTM, where he won in Nürburgring.
"That's what determination and motivation - that's where it gets you. It's been an amazing day and I'm glad I could get this result for the team."
"I was surprised we were never boxing under the VSC or the safety cars," he went on to add, especially after seeing all the other drivers that had started on hards as well, Kevin Magnussen and Fernando Alonso, pitting under the VSC issued for Verstappen's engine failure.
"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."
This good pace on the hard tyres came as a surprise to him and the British team, and will need to be studied in the off time before the next championship round in Imola, to try and get the best out of the FW44.
"What's interesting is that C2 tyres really suits our car. 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," he added with a laugh.
After such an difficult return to the sport, this single point "feels just as sweet" as the podiums he achieved in 2020 with Red Bull:
"It's a much needed result. 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."
The momentarily P9 in the constructor's championship is certainly a good morale boost for the upcoming European races, especially considering its circumstances and how the best possible outcome expected was "P19, maybe P18".
"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," he concluded.