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Williams boss Vowles labels Albon/Sargeant chassis swap situation in Melbourne ‘unacceptable in modern day F1’

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: James Vowles, Team Principal of Williams looks on from the pitwall

A frustrated James Vowles has admitted that it’s “unacceptable” that Williams have failed to bring a third chassis to Melbourne, after Alex Albon was forced to take over team mate Logan Sargeant’s FW46 for the remainder of the Australian Grand Prix weekend.

Albon crashed his own FW46 with such force in Free Practice 1 at the Albert Park Circuit that he was obliged to miss FP2 as the team assessed the damage – later ruling that it was too significant to allow Albon to continue using it.

READ MORE: Albon to take over Sargeant’s car for remainder of Australia GP weekend after FP1 shunt

With no third chassis available for Williams in Australia, the team were forced to make the tough call to allow Albon – who scored 27 out of Williams’ 28 points in 2023 – to take over Sargeant’s car for the rest of the weekend, a decision Sargeant called “the hardest moment I can remember in my career”.

Reflecting on the decision, Vowles said: “While Logan should not have to suffer from a mistake that he did not make, every race counts when the midfield is tighter than ever, so we have made the call based on our best potential to score points this weekend.

“This decision was not made lightly, and we cannot thank Logan enough for his graceful acceptance, demonstrating his dedication to the team; he is a true team player.”

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2024 Australian GP FP1: Albon crash brings out the red flags in first practice

But Vowles – who in a recent interview with The Race website admitted his shock at discovering that Williams had until recently used a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to manage parts, a system he labelled “useless” and “a joke” – said that it was “unacceptable” that the team had found themselves in their Australian Grand Prix predicament, as he vowed “significant change” to come.

READ MORE: ‘Consummate professional’ Sargeant calls giving up car to Albon in Australia ‘the hardest moment in my career’

“It's unacceptable in modern day Formula 1 not to have a spare chassis,” said Vowles, “but it is a reflection of how behind we were in the winter period and an illustration of why we need to go through significant change in order to get ourselves in a better position for the future. As a result, we have had some very difficult decisions to make this afternoon.

“This will prove a tough weekend for Williams, and this situation is not one that we will put ourselves in again,” he added. “We are hugely disappointed that the damage sustained to the chassis has meant we need to withdraw it from the weekend.”

Williams currently sit on zero points in the constructors’ standings after the first two rounds of the 2024 season, along with fellow non-scorers RB, Alpine and Kick Sauber.

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