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‘We’ve made unbelievable progress’ – Albon thrilled with ‘shock’ points finish for Williams in season opener

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Points were hard to come by for Williams last year but Alex Albon was on the scoresheet in the very first race of 2023 after finishing P10 in Bahrain – a result he says was “a bit of a shock” but also testament to the team’s hard work over the winter.

The Thai driver lined up 15th after failing to set a time in Q2 thanks to front wing damage. Having said after qualifying that he thought Q3 would have been possible, Albon more than backed up that assessment in the race by overtaking a handful of cars off the line to climb into the top 10.

His team then mirrored the strategy taken by Red Bull, running two soft-tyre stints before switching to the hard compound for the closing stages. He wound up finishing the race back on the soft tyres after swift work by his team to pit him under the late Virtual Safety Car without losing a single on track position.

READ MORE: Verstappen says winning start to 2023 for himself and Red Bull is ‘exactly what we were dreaming of’

After the race he was beaming about the result – and admitted he wasn't expecting to be so competitive.

“A bit of a shock!" he said. "We had a very good start, made some positions up, had a very good strategy and were flexible with it.

“If you’d told me we’d finish in the points coming into this weekend I’d have – well I don’t know what I’d have done to you but if was pretty special and honestly not just for me, Logan [Sargeant] was pretty quick as well, we were both up there and fighting.”

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 05: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW45 Mercedes

Both Albon and Sargeant put in accomplished drives on Sunday

Rookie Sargeant ultimately finished just outside the points on his Formula 1 debut, but interestingly, Albon confirmed that the two team mates had been running different packages as Williams continue to evaluate their options at this early stage in the development cycle of the FW45.

“We were actually on different packages this weekend and in the end they both worked pretty well,” Albon said. “We’ve definitely got potential coming – I know there’s some more pace in the car and hopefully over the next few races we can show that, I’m obviously very happy and testament to the team as well for all their hard work.

“I’ve said it before you know but everyone looks at the Aston Martin, but we’ve made unbelievable progress as well. It’s harder to see because we aren’t on the podium, but we’ve made good steps there.”

READ MORE: ‘We’re the fourth fastest team now’ – Hamilton offers honest Mercedes assessment as he admits the team are ‘going backwards’

Williams actually gained the most time out of any team based on data from testing in 2022 versus 2023, backing up Albon’s assessment that the team are headed in the right direction. And with points in the first race of the season bagged, the Grove-based team should be confident they can fight their way off the bottom of the constructors’ table this season.

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