F1i Team Report Card for 2023: Williams

Continuing our review of how all ten F1 teams fared in 2023, with a look at Williams and drivers Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant.

Albon delivers, but Williams' cautious rise looks fragile

(L to R): Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams Racing and Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing at a team photograph. 25.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Qualifying Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

The team picture

  • Constructors standing: P7, 28 points

Last season, Williams finished bottom of the constructors standings despite having brought Alex ALbon on board to replace the Mercedes-bound George Russell. While Albon continued his predecessor's talent for getting through to the second round of qualifying, the team struggled with race pace, scoring only five times and never finishing higher than P9.

This year, with new team principal James Vowles in place, Williams got off the mark straight away in Bahrain thanks to Albon finishing in tenth. This looked a bit of a false dawn as they didn't take any more points until Albon finished a brilliant seventh in Canada after which followed six more points-paying results over the course of the season as the team hit a rich seam of performance. However they ran out of gas in the final three outings and were very nearly overhauled by AlphaTauri in the constructors standings. They held on to P7 by the skin of their teeth, the 28 points they amassed in 2023 undoubtedly a huge improvement on the eight they managed 12 months ago.

(L to R): Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams Racing with Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing on the grid. 04.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sprint Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

The driver line-up

  • Alex Albon: P13, 27 points
  • Logan Sargeant: P21, 1 point

In terms of how all the various team mates compared in 2023, the situation at Williams is simplest to analyse. Undisputed team leader Albon had a clean sweep of all 22 qualifying sessions over rookie Logan Sargeant - the only whitewash among team mates on this year's grid. Incidents on race day trimmed that to a 18-3 record in Grands Prix, with Albon failing to finish in Saudi Arabia, Australia, Japan and Brazil compared to seven DNFs for Sargeant.

Albon also had a clean sweep over Sargeant in sprint races. The American did manage to avoid emerging from the season without any points at all, when he was promoted to tenth in the United States GP after Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were thrown out for a technical issue involving underfloor planks. It looked touch and go whether Sargeant would be retained for a sophomore season with Liam Lawson, Frederik Vesti and Felipe Drugovich waiting on the sidelines, ready and eager to jump in given half a chance. Sargeant will have to work hard to justify the team's faith in him if he wants to stay with the team beyond 2024.

Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW45. 29.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

How 2024 is looking for Williams

Williams had an impressive season and can be justifiably proud of what they achieved in 2023. Credit has to go to Albon and also to new team principal James Vowles, who steadied the ship after the sudden exits of his predecessor Jost Capito and technical director François-Xavier Demaison just weeks before the new season got underway.

Can Williams pull off the same trick again in 2024? Frankly we're not convinced. Sargeant is a weak link in the operation that they can ill-afford, so he must do better in his second season. And the team still has a gaps behind the scenes, with Pat Fry only coming on board from Alpine as chief technical director in November meaning the FW46 will have been largely developed without his input. Expect the team to struggle early but maybe find its footing over the summer, much like it did this year.

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