Albon believes Williams are slowest despite making a better car for 2023

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By Connor Bacon

After finishing the 2022 season last in the constructors’ standings, with a car that had balance issues and a general lack of downforce, Williams appears to have made progress over the winter if the Bahrain test is anything to go by.

However, Alex Albon, who is entering his second year with the team, is rather modest about where he feels they are heading into the first race of the season.

“I’m possibly a bit more pessimistic than optimistic,” said the Thai driver. to media in Bahrain. “I do think, at least from the initial looks at testing we are the 10th quickest team.

“You have to be realistic, we definitely have made a better car. But in terms of pace everyone has, so it’s all relative.

“We’re really going to have to hope for a chance for points, it’s not going to be an easy one, and there’s definitely something that has to happen for that to happen.”

He noted the impact of the Grove squad not having a technical director after losing FX Demaison, who followed team principal Jost Capito out the door late last year, and the Thai highlighted the importance of making progress where the car is limited.

“It’s really about how we go through the year. Are we understanding the car better? We are obviously still without a technical director.

“But we need to see progress in the areas where we do feel limited driving-wise. And if we see that progress, then we’re clearly heading in the right direction.

“We have already done a step but still need to see more of that. It was clear with the wind over testing and the angle of the wind it was very tricky with us in a couple of corners.

“If we can end the season better than we started, which we did last year, I’ll be happy.”

Albon also explained the cars key weakness, a balance issue in slow-speed corners which is a trait carried over from the previous year’s FW44, although is less prominent on this year’s machine.

“The characteristics are still there. The DNA is there,” he said.

“But in terms of extremes, they’ve brought it in. We’re not fighting too hard in one area.

“But the language which the drivers communicate is still talking about the same problems, it’s just a little less vocal.”

“It’s progress but we still need more. Hopefully we can address that with updates through the season.”

Despite the more negative outlook, Albon feels that Williams was strong on the reliability front during testing, and because it’s the first race of the season, he is banking on other teams running into trouble to get a good result.

“When I look at testing, we’ve been very reliable, so being the first race of the year, there is always a bit of reliability problems and hopefully, we can take advantage of that.

“But in terms of pure pace, there’s a lot of teams out there that make big steps. [Compared to] our rivals, possibly Alpha Tauri and McLaren, I still think we are a little bit behind.”

Photo: Williams Racing