While hopeful that Williams can make progress from its issues last year, Alex Albon admits it is unrealistic to expect a fast start from the team in 2023.
Williams finished at the bottom of the constructors’ championship with just eight points in 2022, well behind AlphaTauri in ninth place with 35. Over the winter, team principal Jost Capito and technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison both left their roles, and after such upheaval Albon believes the coming season will be a slow burner for Williams despite anticipated progress made with the new car.
“In terms of performance and as a team, I would say at the start of the year it won’t be something like Haas where we come out of the blocks and straight away are very competitive,” Albon said. “We have changed quite a lot of the car in terms of its philosophy and the areas where we’re trying to change the through-corner behavior of the car. That might take a bit of time to understand and optimize.
“In terms of upgrades, last year we really only had one significant one. Hopefully we can be able to bring out smaller, more frequent ones. We don’t know yet, but let’s see how it is in Bahrain — be efficient and effective with our upgrades.
“What I’m trying to say is I don’t think we’re going to come out of the blocks firing, but we just need to be smart. We did it already last year, I believe — we did start the year on the back foot and (were) scoring points around midway.
“We definitely had our favorable tracks such as Monza and Spa, etc. — I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re still strong at those circuits — (but) I’m still looking to optimize every race. The goal is always to score points — podiums hopefully! But we’ll see about that.”
Albon says his realistic goal is to be in a position to reach Q2 even more regularly than last season, as that should set up more point-scoring opportunities.
“From my side, my main target is to see progress. I think if we can improve on where we were last year… you can easily say, ‘That’s not hard!’ But in this world, F1 teams now, it’s a race. With these regs changing so much, the downforce and everything, it’s not the same as it was last year. Of course teams have still managed to recoup the loss and of course improve on top of that. But it’s not to say that other teams are doing a better job.
“We just need to make sure that we are progressing. On my side that’s scoring more points, clearly. And being in areas where we can fight more. There were a few races last year where Q1 was unfortunately all we could do. If we can always be fighting for Q2 and making it into that area of the pack, that area of the grid, the more chances we get for points.”
Williams has struggled for a number of seasons, in part due to a lack of investment, and as Dorilton Capital continues to invest in the team’s infrastructure Albon says there are no quick fixes to a lack of car performance.
“I think it will take time. It doesn’t happen over one year, as much as we wish it did. There is still a learning process and I always feel like cars tend have a language, almost a DNA. I think all cars through the years, doesn’t matter (about) regulation changes or not, they all tend to have the same characteristics year to year.
“We’re just trying to get that rolling pin and get it out. You can see the problems and think you can understand and solve them, but it’s a tricky business. I think we’re still going through that process of fully understanding and getting on top of it. We’ll see in Bahrain — Turn 9 and Turn 10, they’re the notorious corners. Hopefully if we’re backing it in on the rear, that’s a good sign.”