The performance of Albon and Williams in 2023 was notable, particularly on circuits that were compatible with the low-drag FW45. The car, operating at the upper echelons of the midfield, excelled in low-downforce circuits like Monza and Montreal, yet various vulnerabilities limited its overall competitiveness throughout the season.
The team at Williams was chiefly focused on modifying the FW46 in order to eradicate some of its unsatisfactory handling properties and transform it into a consistent points scorer, centred around a broader range of circuits.
Albon, after testing his spanking new equipment in the Grove simulator, has been positive about the changes in the FW46. It’s “very different” in comparison to the machine of last year, especially in terms of how it feels. Albon commented, “Very different – more than anything, different feeling, so a different driving style [is needed]. The FW45 always had some consistent limitations with the car. These were most pronounced on tracks like Monaco or Barcelona.”
“Low speed was always a big issue for us, braking was always a big issue for us, and high-speed, long corners were a challenge,” he added. Albon noted that these areas seem to have improved in the simulator. Nevertheless, it necessitates a significant shift in driving style. Albon hopes to gain a deeper understanding as they take the track.
On being questioned about how much of the 2024 changes in Williams were motivated by his feedback, Albon clarified: “It’s not just my feedback, it’s every team-mate’s. Even in 2020 and 2021, when I wasn’t even driving the car, the same issues existed. Thus, it’s been a persistent problem with Williams‘ cars over the last four or five years.”
He elaborated, “This year especially, we’ve offloaded a bit of the development time on the FW45 to concentrate on the FW46. The objective was to take a more aggressive approach towards this car and truly alter its fundamental characteristics. Now, only time will tell how successful this strategy is.”
In the championship, Williams barely clinched the seventh position against a rising AlphaTauri. However, with a mere 28 points, it seriously lagged behind the next team — Alpine, which had amassed 120 points.
Given the hopefulness surrounding Williams‘ potential to significantly advance this year, Albon believes that narrowing such a massive points gap is a reasonable objective if the new car turns out as adaptable as anticipated.
“I want to be battling it out with Alpine and gradually closing in on the upper group. Although wins and podium finishes may be out of reach this year, garnering regular points would be impressive. Consistency is key for us to secure a position among the top five or top six teams,” Albon added enthusiastically. He especially anticipates seeing how they perform on tracks where prior struggles were evident such as Monaco and Barcelona.