In the round-up: Williams’ Alex Albon praises the team’s jump up Formula 1’s pecking order for 2023.
Albon encouraged by Williams’ gains since 2022
Alex Albon said he had “a really tough race” en route to tenth in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but was thrilled to make the points and rival Alpine who finished six places higher than Williams in the 2022 standings.
The streamlined design of the Williams FW45 meant Albon had a higher straight-line speed than many on-track rivals as he rose up from 15th on the grid to bring home a point for Williams in race one of a season for the first time since 2017.
“The wind made the cars I think for everyone much more disconnected than yesterday,” said Albon. “So to have the pace we had under the circumstances, I have to say I’m super proud.”
His fastest lap of the weekend was 1.265 seconds up on his best lap at Bahrain in 2022. Aston Martin was the only other team to lap more than a second faster than they did last year.
“Everyone I’m sure is looking at the Aston Martin right now on the podium and thinking what a step they’ve done. But we’re second [in lap time gain since 2022]. Where you look at us from last year to this year in this position, 12 months on, I have to say we’ve done an amazing job.”
When asked if Williams could score regularly in 2023, Albon replied: “I believe so. I wouldn’t have said so coming into this weekend. But after this weekend, who knows anymore? We qualified out of position. We should have qualified higher up.”
“The fact that we were racing the Alpines is a great sign,” he added. “We had our elbows out. I enjoyed my overtake on Esteban [Ocon].”
Horner: “We fully expect our rivals to come back hard”
Red Bull may have taken a one-two in qualifying and the race at Bahrain, but team principal Christian Horner does not expect the team to dominate 2023 after Mercedes’ George Russell said the reigning champions “should win every race” with their current pace.
Russell’s comments were put to Horner, whose team won 17 grands prix out of 22 in 2022, and he said: “23 races is a marathon. It’s about being consistent over the campaign. Today was a great start [for] both drivers.
“Checo lost out at the start, the dirty side [of the grid], the benefit of the brand new tyre off the start line for Charles [Leclerc]. But the strategy and the pace we had enabled Checo to pass him. Then it was a question of managing the race to the finish. But we fully expect our rivals to come back hard in the future races.”
Hamiton’s Extreme E team partners with F2’s Carlin
Lewis Hamilton’s Extreme E team X44 has entered a partnership with Formula 2 team Rodin Carlin.
The third XE season begins this weekend, and X44 are the reigning champions. The driver line-up for their car will be different this year, as rallycross racer Fraz McConnell replaces rally legend Sebastien Loeb alongside Cristina Gutierrez.
Carlin’s co-team principal Stephanie Carlin will assume the team principal role at X44, and Stephanie Travers – who first started working with Hamilton as a trackside fluid engineer for Mercedes’ supplier Petronas in F1 – is promoted from associate sporting director to become deputy team principal.
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