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Williams: Albon P8 in Australia was possible without FP1 crash

Williams believe points were attainable for Alex Albon in Australia with more running in free practice. According to the team’s head of performance, 8th place could have been a realistic target with a clean weekend.

Few teams will recall a more difficult weekend than the one Williams experienced at the Australian GP. The Grove-based team’s nightmare began in Free Practice 1 with a crash from Alex Albon.

The Thai driver’s mistake damaged the chassis of his FW46 beyond repair. Such an incident would be inconvenient and costly for most teams – but far from a disaster.

However, it was a worst-case scenario for James Vowles and his personnel. Without a spare chassis to replace the one damaged ruined, Williams could only service one car for the rest of the weekend.

At this point, the controversial decision was taken to withdraw Logan Sargeant so that Albon could compete on Saturday and Sunday. The British team principal justified this call by saying that Albon was more likely to score points.

Even with Sargeant completing significantly more track time, the 27-year-old driver was given the nod.

Ultimately, Williams failed to score points in Australia. To rub salt in the wounds, rivals RB and Haas finished in the top 10.

Last weekend is evidently one to forget. However, the team believes points were attainable on Sunday with a clean weekend.

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Williams: Albon could have scored points in Australia

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, argued as much in Williams’ post-race report:

“We knew that graining would be an issue, especially after the mandated tyre pressures were increased on Friday night.

“However, we didn’t do enough to mitigate the issue and this left Alex stuck between front graining and rear tyre degradation.

“The car wasn’t quick enough in race trim this weekend, which left Alex having to find the laptime by pushing the tyres.

“Which accelerated the degradation and left us unable to fight with the cars that we should be able to race with.

“For this to coincide with a race with so many fast cars retiring is even more frustrating as there is no reason why, with more experience from Friday, we couldn’t have been fighting Yuki for P8.”

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This assessment is not entirely without merit. On paper, practice time would have undoubtedly helped Albon.

However, Logan Sargeant – who was replaced mid-weekend – did complete two programmes on Friday. As mentioned earlier, the American’s practice time was surely a factor to consider before Williams withdrew him.

James Vowles’s decision suggests that he was more confident in Albon’s chances of scoring points than Sargeant, even with a massive discrepancy in track time.

Williams must now lick their wounds ahead of the Japanese GP. It is worth noting that their component shortages are not yet over. There still won’t be a spare chassis for the FW46 in Suzuka.

In addition, the team must contend with the internal and external ramifications of their decision in Albert Park.


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