This is my first blog for a while, but I’m hoping to make them more regular from now on as the 2022 Formula 1 season hits its stride.
Let’s begin with the elephant in the room. Formula 1’s new-for-2022 regulations that teams have been working towards for a couple of years, and that fans have been anticipating for just as long, were an opportunity for Williams – below par for a number of years now – to make great strides towards the front of the grid. And it would appear that it’s an opportunity that has been missed.
Williams, once again, finds itself at, or towards the back of the field – perhaps moreso than in 2021 when there were tangible signs of recovery – and the team appears to be – at this stage of the season at least – reliant on misfortune befalling others to be in contention for top ten finishes.
Nicholas Latifi, in his third year with the team, is yet to finish in the top 15, and has qualified slowest of all (excluding issues) in each of the four Grands Prix thus far in 2022.
After a 13th and 14th places in the first two Grands Prix, Alexander Albon – new to Williams for 2022 – secured a fantastic first point of the season for both he and the team in the Australian Grand Prix by driving all but the final lap of the race on a single set of tyres before pitting for his mandatory new set of tyres right at the death, rejoining in 10th place where he finished.
At Imola for the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix (it will always be the San Marino Grand Prix to me!) a dramatic fire/explosion in qualifying meant that the Thai driver would start at the back come the sprint race on Saturday afternoon, where he’d move ahead of his teammate and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu who crashed out.
This meant an 18th place starting berth for Albon in Sunday’s Grand Prix and plently of opportunity to move up, especially given the wet/drying conditions.
Misfortune befell four drivers ahead on lap one, allowing Albon to steadily move forward, as he showed strong race pace before being one of the first drivers to pit for slicks on lap 17, allowing him to pass seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and into 11th place.
There he remained for the rest of the race, holding off strong challenges from Gasly and Hamilton behind for half the race, and ensuring he was close enough to Esteban Ocon’s Alpine to jump the Frenchman when his five-second penalty for an earlier infringement was applied post race.
After the race, Albon told williamsf1.com:
“It’s a shame that we missed out on points by one place, but we are taking opportunities, doing things differently and showing that we can battle higher up despite not having the fastest car.”
Onwards to Miami in two weeks time!