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Formula 1 Bahrain GP

Williams winter F1 gains second only to Aston Martin - Albon

Williams has taken the second-biggest step forward with car performance behind only Aston Martin at the start of the 2023 Formula 1 season, according to its driver Alex Albon.

Alex Albon, Williams Racing FW45

The Grove squad struggled with the ground-effects rules revolution in 2022 as it lacked downforce and suffered with poor low-speed balance.

That left the team to prop up the constructors’ championship with just eight points, compared to 35 for next-worst AlphaTauri in ninth.

But the new FW45 has proved more stable and allowed Albon to bank a point in 10th in the season-opener in Bahrain as rookie team-mate Logan Sargeant impressed with 12th.

That step forward, with Sargeant also logging the seventh-fastest race pace, has left Albon to heap praise on Williams for making gains over the winter second only to Aston Martin, which bagged a podium courtesy of Fernando Alonso in third.

The Anglo-Thai driver said: “We were running low downforce, which was even trickier. So, to have the pace we had under the circumstances, I have to say I’m super proud.

“Everyone I’m sure is looking at the Aston Martin on the podium and thinking what a step they’ve done. But we’re second.

“Where you look at us from last year to this year in this position, 12 months ago, I have to say, we’ve done an amazing job. Of course, we were reliable, which helps. But we got points on our first race.”

Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

New team principal James Vowles has already said Williams is open to sacrificing the development of the 2023 car in order to bring longer-term success.

But Albon still reckoned the FW45 could score points more regularly than its predecessor, which did so on five occasions, saying: “I believe so. I wouldn’t have said so coming into [Bahrain] but after, who knows anymore.

“We qualified out of position. We should have qualified higher up, in my opinion. It would have made our race a lot easier. But that’s progress.

“I don’t want to be overly optimistic, but saying that as well, the flipside, I know we’ve got some stuff for the next couple of races that can really push us forwards.”

Ex-Red Bull F1 driver Albon also reckoned the team already knew which areas to target to find immediate lap time gains if it sticks to developing the FW45.

He said: “We need to assess our weaknesses, that’s the main thing. We know in terms of downforce level where there are advantages.

“We have kind of a different character to most people - We are slippery on the straights and less quick on the corners. But we’re making it work and I think we’ve got to do what’s good for our car right now.

“We still need to dial out some characteristic problems - that’s going to take possibly a little bit longer.

“But for now, the short term, we know where we can improve. There’s lap time there. We’re quick and stable.”

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