HALF TERM REPORT: Williams – Can they continue their 2023 progress after some encouraging signs?
The 2023 F1 campaign signalled the start of a new chapter for the illustrious Williams name, with James Vowles stepping in as Team Principal. Their goal was to make progress, having finished bottom of the pile last year – and so far, the signs are encouraging. Here’s their half term report…
Alex Albon – 7th in Canada
Williams know they have a car that will struggle at most circuits but be in contention for points at others, in particular layouts that include long straights where its slippery machine will shine.
When that’s the case, you need a driver who will deliver when it matters – and in Alex Albon, Williams have just that. Canada was a great example, the Thai driver utilising a heavily updated car – and Montreal’s long straights – to start ninth and finish seventh to take six valuable points.
That score alone accounts for more than half their tally for the entire first half of the season and played a huge role in putting them seventh in the constructors’ championship at the break.
Albon 12-0 Sargeant
Albon comfortably had the beating of his previous team mate Nicholas Latifi – and that pattern has continued with rookie Logan Sargeant so far this year, the Thai driver unbeaten in the head-to-head after 12 rounds.
Albon’s managed four Q3 appearances this year, including three on the bounce – Canada, Austria and Great Britain – and that strong speed over a single lap has opened the door for points on Sunday.
Albon 10-1 Sargeant
In race trim, Albon has had an impressive advantage over Sargeant, who continues to adjust to life in F1 and faces the additional challenge of having to learn a whole host of new tracks.
When they have both crossed the line, Albon has always been ahead in 2023, the 27-year-old scoring on three occasions – the season opener in Bahrain and in the team’s home race at Silverstone in addition to that stunning Canadian GP result.
Albon’s seventh place in Canada was Williams’ best result in two years and secured a haul of points that could be worth one or maybe two places in the constructors’ championship (and the prize money that goes with it) come the end of the season.
He's made defensive driving one of his core skills in recent years – and they were on show for all to see at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He didn’t make a single mistake on a very demanding race track. Chapeau.
Albon was in good shape to score what could have been Williams’ best performance of the season – or at the very least a comfortable top-10 finish – when he ran sixth in the early stages of the Australian Gand Prix. But he slid a little wide at Turn 6, lost control and spun into the barriers.
Morale is high in the team right now, the women and men in blue buoyed by some standout performances that are putting the team in the mix for their best constructors’ championship finish in years.
Their target is simple – continue to make the most of their opportunities, particularly on tracks where their slippery Williams can excel on the straights.
Monza is their best shot for a big haul in the second half of the season. Albon was gutted to miss the race last year after being diagnosed with appendicitis – as he knew there was a chance of a huge score.
If he and the team get everything right that weekend, a top-five finish wouldn’t be outside the realms of possibilities.