Williams chassis repair for Japan looking ‘completely feasible’


Williams is currently in a race against time to repair Alex Albon’s FW46 chassis for next week’s Japanese GP, but so far the heavy task is looking “completely feasible” according to team boss James Vowles.

Albon kicked started his Australian GP weekend last Friday with a bang when he lost control of his car at Albert Park’s Turn 6, spun across the track and slammed into the barrier, sustaining significant damage.

Upon inspection after the session, the Williams team discovered the damage to the tub, the underbody of the chassis, was too severe to repair.

With no spare chassis on hand, Williams was faced with a critical decision, leaving Vowles to make a bold call.

To keep Albon in the race, the team opted to assign Logan Sargeant’s FW46 to the British outfit’s number one driver for the remainder of the weekend. It was a painful decision for the young American but one he readily accepted as a team player.

Williams’ entire focus is now on a frantic repair job, but the team will once again be operating on a ragged edge in Japan, with still no third chassis at its disposal.

“We will definitely have two chassis in Japan, but no, I don’t think that third chassis because the workload we now have on because of this change will push it back,” Vowles explained, quoted by Speedcafe.

“There’s a finite amount of resource. You can either put it into making sure we have two cars built up with the correct amount of spares in Japan or the additional chassis.”

Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Friday 22nd March 2024. Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. © Williams Racing

© Williams Racing

The Williams boss detailed the damage inflicted to Albon’s chassis following the Anglo-Thai racer’s mishap.

“The gearbox was cracked in two, the engine mounts were completely bent, and the engine’s done, fundamentally,” Vowles said in Melbourne.

“The chassis, on the front-right corner where the suspension goes in, is torn apart, is the best way to describe it. I can put my finger into the chassis – which you shouldn’t be able to do, just for clarity.

“The team’s been brilliant in working with the structures and stresses department and with the [Design Office].

“The team here have been able to get the car back for about Monday 2 am, so we have teams already working on it for Monday onwards in order to get it repaired.

“Until they see it in person, it will be very difficult, they’re doing things by photo that we’ve done here, but there’s four or five mitigation plans in place for it.”

While optimistic last weekend about having a repaired chassis ready for the Japanese Grand Prix, Vowles admitted the situation was somewhat of a gamble.

A full assessment of the damage, particularly to the critical tub section, could only be done once the car returned to Williams’ factory in Grove.

The lack at the time of immediate clarity meant the true scale of the repair job and the resources needed remained shrouded in uncertainty until earlier this week, on Monday.

“It’s hard until I get the chassis physically back there to give you a full acknowledgement of how difficult it would be,” he added.

“It should all be achievable. The car [had] to leave by Saturday to make it back on time, which gives us near enough a week, and that’s a sufficient amount of time.

“No one can give you 100 percent certainty,” he added.

“What I can tell you is based on the evidence that we have so far and the work that’s completed [on Friday night], everything looks completely feasible.

“I’ve seen chassis in worse states come back from this.

“100 percent is a difficult number to give you, and as a statistics man, I wouldn’t say 100 percent, but I would say there is a very high probability it will all be fine.”

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