Feature

END OF YEAR REPORT: Progress for Williams as they look to build on a promising 2023 campaign

Share
AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 20: Alexander Albon of Thailand and Williams and Logan Sargeant of United

Williams’ 2023 season was one of progress, having gone from last in 2022 to seventh in the constructors' championship this time around – their best result since finishing fifth in 2017. But the main takeaway is there are signs that, under the leadership of James Vowles, the team's future is very bright. Here is their end of year report...

Best finish

Alex Albon – 7th in Canada and Italy

Alex Albon was one of the star performers on the grid in 2023 as he regularly drove the wheels off the FW45, often capitalising on the slippery nature of the car to score points at tracks that suited it.

ANALYSIS: The key factors that ensured Sargeant retained his Williams seat for 2024

Montreal was a prime example, where he used his updated car – and the long straights – to hold off a pack of cars, including Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll, for a number of laps in the closing stages to finish seventh.

It was a case of deja vu at Monza, where he performed brilliantly to qualify sixth. He made that count on Sunday, but only after he was forced to get his elbows out and defend tirelessly from the quicker McLaren of Lando Norris in a multi-lap battle towards the end of the affair.

ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - AUGUST 26: Williams F1 team team principal James Vowles arrives at the

Williams had a good first season under James Vowles' leadership

Qualifying head-to-head

Alex Albon 22-0 Logan Sargeant

Williams were often at their strongest on a Saturday and, each and every single weekend this year, Albon proved to be the lead driver in blue, as he comfortably had the measure over his rookie team mate, Logan Sargeant, in qualifying.

Statistically, Albon was the 13th best qualifier on the grid this year and made it into Q3 on seven occasions, with his best result coming in Zandvoort where he lined up in fourth.

READ MORE: Our writers pick their best drivers and favourite stories from 2023 – as well as who needs to up their game in 2024

As for Sargeant, despite the scoreline, he steadily improved his one lap pace as the season went on and actually got closer to Albon towards the back end of the season. His best result came in the penultimate race of the year in Las Vegas, where he qualified seventh – his second Q3 appearance after Zandvoort.

Race head-to-head

Alex Albon 18-2 Logan Sargeant

Albon also held a sizeable advantage over Sargeant in race trim, as whenever both drivers took the chequered flag, the Thai racer was always the lead Williams.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 28: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23)

Albon was the lead qualifier all year for Williams ahead of Sargeant

As previously mentioned, his best finishes came in Montreal and Monza, where he placed seventh, but he also scored points in five other races – Bahrain, Silverstone, Zandvoort, Austin, and Mexico City.

As for Sargeant, he had to wait till later in the year, in Austin, before he scored his maiden points finish – taking advantage of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc being disqualified to make it into the top-10.

READ MORE: 'It looks fast' – Albon 'excited' by Williams' 2024 car after helping team seal P7 in the championship in Abu Dhabi

Best Moment

There are a number of highlights from Williams’ impressive season with both drivers making it into Q3 in Zandvoort and Las Vegas definitely up there.

But points on a Sunday are always important and Albon’s heroic defensive drives to seventh in Canada and Italy will live long in the memory for Williams. Those performances accounted for nearly half of Williams’ 28 points that helped them seal P7 in the championship.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 23: Logan Sargeant of United States and Williams climbs from his car

Sargeant's crash in Q1 in Japan was the start of Williams' problems that weekend

Worst Moment

The Japanese Grand Prix was one to forget for Williams as both drivers were forced to retire from the race after sustaining damage from earlier collisions. However, their problems started before then, when Sargeant crashed out in Q1.

READ MORE: Sargeant reveals biggest lesson he took from rookie season as he picks out highlight

Williams were forced to rebuild his car, but the American had to start from the pit lane and was given a 10-second time penalty after it was adjudged that the team had built him a third car. While he did get racing, a few laps in he was given an additional five-second penalty for colliding with Valtteri Bottas.

Albon also collided with Bottas, but at the start, with the Thai racer a passenger as the Alfa Romeo driver was pushed into the side of his Williams by the Alpine of Ocon. He was able to continue but the damage to his car was just too much for him to finish the race.

AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 22: Alexander Albon of Thailand and Williams prepares to drive on the grid

Albon had an impressive season for Williams scoring 27 of Williams' 28 points in 2023

Going forward

James Vowles has made it clear that he is building for the long term with Williams and, while short term improvement is great, it is all about making sure the team is set up for success for the next few years.

However, they have plenty of positive momentum from this season to build on heading into 2024. Their main priority is to make sure that their car is an all-rounder, meaning that it is competitive in all types of circuits and not just in low downforce tracks.

READ MORE: ‘It’s eye-watering’ – Albon shares the secrets of Verstappen’s unique driving style

As well as that, Williams will need both drivers fighting up there next year, which means Sargeant must continue to develop as the team looks to make further progress up the championship order next year.

If they can marry these two together, along with Albon’s incredible pace, Williams could be a team to be reckoned with next season.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Coming Up

Coming Up

Podcast

F1 EXPLAINS: Ask an F1 driver – Your questions answered by Liam Lawson