Albon insists he's ready to be team leader at Williams

Alex Albon (THA) Williams FW45 Monday 6th February 2023, Williams Racing Headquarters, Grove, England.
© XPB 

Williams driver Alex Albon has brushed aside criticism that he needs to be more forthright when it comes to giving the team crucial feedback about the car's performance.

Albon joined the squad at the start of 2022, taking over from Mercedes-bound George Russell. Previously he had been part of the Red Bull driver programme and driven in 38 races for both Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing.

But after his first season at Grove, Albon was criticised by the team's then-technical director François-Xavier Demaison who said Albon needed to be tougher with his comments if he wanted to be a future world champion.

“When he has the helmet on, yes, he can be hard. But it should be a bit more harder in debriefs,” Demaison complained. “I explain to him every day, I tell him you have if you want to be a world champion you have to be like this.”

However the 26-year-old London-born Thai driver defended his 'softly softly' approach. “I would say the way I go about my business is more to get the best out of the people I work with.

“I don’t think that’s necessarily always just being hard on people," he continued. "Everyone works differently, extracting performance in different ways.

Will Buxton (GBR), Logan Sargeant (USA)  & Alex Albon (THA).
Williams FW45 Monday 6th February 2023, Williams Racing Headquarters, Grove, England.

"That’s not necessarily giving it the 'throwing the laptop across the room' kind of thing," he said. “Everyone has different personalities. I’m definitely focused on becoming a team leader, and looking at ways to do that."

Demaison has since left the team, as has former principal Jost Capito whose place has been taken by former Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles.

This year Albon will be William' senior driver with former team mate Nicholas Latifi having been replaced by American rookie Logan Sargeant, making Albon's technical contribution all the more important.

Williams' head of vehicle performance Dave Robson felt that Demaison had missed the mark with his comments, and insisted that Albon had the right balance between being direct and firm while remaining calm and approachable when giving feedback.

“If you listen to him on the radio when he’s actually out on the track, he’s not shy about telling us what he thinks," Robson said this week at the launch of the squad's 2023 livery.

Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW44. 22.11.2022. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Tuesday.

"The moment he steps out of the car, he’s got a different character in the way he speaks and sounding much calmer," he acknowledged. “But what he’s asking for is just the same.

"It’s sort of an emotional switch: it’s on and off, depending on if he has got his helmet on or not," he explained. "He’s demanding, don’t worry about that.

“I think he gets the balance about right. It did change and improve over the course of the year," Robson said. “He knows what he wants. He’s not shy to ask for it. I don’t think there’s a problem there.

"What he needs is to be pushed forward, which we hope Logan will do," he added

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