On the back of a great Dutch Grand Prix, in which Alex Albon qualified a season’s best 4th, and finished the race 8th, Williams Racing arrived at Monza – F1’s ‘Cathedral of Speed’ – with high hopes for another strong race in Italy.
In their 2023 car – the FW45 – Williams have a car that is very quick in a straight line, and as such, it was hoped that the long straights of Monza would play to its strengths, and give the team another strong points finish to add to the four top ten finishes scored by Albon this year, and the 9th place secured by the one-time Williams driver Nyck De Vries here 12 months ago.
F1 again trialled reducing teams’ tyre allocation for the weekend from 13 to 11, mandating that hard tyres be used in Q1, medium in Q2 and soft in Q3, making the sum total of eff all in any meaningful respect.
Both Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant advanced from Q1 to take their place in the fastest 15 drivers in Q2, where Sargeant fell – qualifying in 15th. Again, Albon progressed into Q1 where he posted the 6th quickest time, behind only Formula 1’s big boys Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. Another highly impressive performance by the Thai/British driver.
The temperature for Sunday’s Grand Prix was unexpectedly high, working against Williams & leading to high tyre degradation. Despite this, Alex Albon did his, now familiar, stout and prolonged defence to keep the resurgent McLaren team (and all but one of those behind) at bay for the entirety of the race, dropping just a single place to the qualified-out-of-position Lewis Hamilton, bringing his Williams home a fantastic 7th to add another 6 points to his season’s tally.
Logan Sargeant, like Albon, pitted early for used hards (on laps 14 and 15 respectively), making for a difficult second stint for the American. By his own admission he struggled to get his Williams ‘in the right window’ in terms of balance, suffering from significant oversteer for the duration, eventually bringing his car home in 13th position.
Once again, Albon proved what a super driver he’s become since joining Williams, filling the #1 slot nicely, and we can only hope that his contract keeps him at Grove for the foreseeable future.
Logan, on the other hand, seems to be struggling and his days in F1 might be numbered. As a car improves, the fallibilities of its drivers are magnified, and it’s becoming clear that Williams will probably need to look elsewhere if it’s to continue its progress, with two drivers that are capable of regularly scoring points whenever the car has the capability – something that’s happening more and more often, and Sargeant is yet to score points in F1.
Albon now sits in 13th place in the 2023 World Championship, and Williams in 7th place in the Constructors’ championship each with 21 points. For context, Williams’ best points tally for an entire season in the past five years is 23, and eight races remain in 2023.
On to Singapore!