Russell, who kickstarted his F1 journey with a three-year stint at Williams, has since moved back to his parent team, Mercedes. He has been succeeded by his buddy, Albon, who now represents Williams as their premier racer. Despite grappling with underinvestment for numerous years, Williams now seems to be on a recovery trajectory. This change has been instigated by the new owners, Dorilton, who have leveraged the experience of the former Mercedes stalwart James Vowles to breathe life into the team. The idea is to restore its position at the vanguard of middle-ranking teams.
Routine occurrences this year have seen the Williams team’s low-drag F1 car shine at lower-downforce circuits, while it slightly lost its grip on tracks demanding higher loads. However, at Zandvoort, Albon and his greenhorn team-mate, Logan Sargeant, defied the norm. Combating a Q3 crash, Albon clinched the fourth position, whereas Sargeant ended up in the tenth spot.
Russell extolled Albon’s performance by saying, “I’m really pleased to see him up there and it goes to show when you get your confidence how that can really transform the performance.” Talking about Vowles’s contribution, Russell confirmed, “Williams is making a huge amount of progress at the moment and I think James Vowles is having a really positive impact there. I think he’s definitely the best man for the job for what Williams need at the moment for their resurgence.” He further added, “It’s great to see more than just the top teams fighting and that’s what we want in Formula 1, we want everybody to have a chance if they do a good job.”
Verstappen, who teamed up with Albon during his time at Red Bull, expressed a similar sentiment. “They’ve been quick in the wet, they’ve been quick in the dry, so that’s very impressive to see,” affirmed Verstappen. He emphasized the significance of such competition for the sport, adding, “And yeah, very happy for Alex himself. He’s a great guy, he was my team-mate before. Very happy for him to be up there and have – for at least this weekend – a very competitive car.”
Lando Norris, the runner-up qualifier, also echoed similar sentiments about Williams‘ performance. “I wouldn’t say it’s a big, big surprise because they’ve been very competitive at certain places but every now and then,” he mentioned. “Silverstone was a similar thing, he was P1 through practice and so on. Now, they just managed to keep it more through qualifying and into Q3 especially. I’m happy for him and the whole team. Logan was there all the way pretty much into Q3. They look strong, they made some big progress this season.”