Albon: RB F1 “look very, very quick” after closer tie-up with Red Bull

Photo Credit: Williams Racing
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After upgrading to additional components provided by the reigning champions, Red Bull’s second Formula 1 team, RB F1, according to Alexander Albon, has done an excellent job with the VCARB 01.

The rebranded team was always going to be more like last year’s RB19 as Helmut Marko wants the teams to work closer and help RB move up the grid. 

“They’ve made a step,” Albon said during a stint in the commentary box during F1 Testing, pausing to consider his comments “I think they have definitely […] gathered some parts.

“They look very, very, very quick. So I think they’ve made a big step, which is just the way it is. But we’re there. We’re not far away, I don’t think.”

Throughout the 2023 season, Albon’s Williams team fought for minor points with RB, formerly known as AlphaTauri. Last year, Williams finished seventh in the constructors’ championship, just ahead of the Faenza-based squad who finished the campaign strongly.

In the off-season, Williams also made some major design improvements to the FW46, which, according to Albon, has paid dividends.

“I think we will have a bit more of a – I don’t want to say ‘normal’ racing car – but I think our balance windows and our speed will very much merge to the kind of the norm in the grid,” he explained.

“I still think, that being said, Monza and tracks like that will be good for us. But we should be much better at tracks like here [Bahrain] or whatever. Time will tell. I’ve only done 40 laps, so not that exciting.”

After team principal James Vowles agreed that Williams had gone aggressive and taken bold risks with their new car’s design, Albon stated that he could feel a difference compared to last year’s FW45.

“Kinematically, the feeling of the front of the car is totally different,” he said.

“It’s totally new, totally redesigned. So the feedback you get in your hands is totally different. We’ve got a Mercedes rear end in the car now, so that’s very different, we’ve got a totally different balance set-up philosophy. So there’s loads of things going on and it all feels like it’s going in the right direction.

“But it’s strange – I’ve spent two years now developing, or driving, a car that has certain characteristics, unique characteristics. And now that kind of all goes in the bin and I’m learning again.”

As noted by Albon, the changes are so significant that he feels as though he is competing for a different team compared to the last two years.

“Yes, regulations can change and whatnot – the cars can have more downforce or little subtleties – but they always carry a DNA, a very strong DNA,” he said.

“You only really feel like that changes when you change team – that’s, at least, the way it felt for me. This feels like I’ve changed team, but I’m obviously still at Williams.”

As for the front runners, Albon believes Red Bull and Ferrari are the teams to beat at present.

“It seems like the Red Bulls and the Ferraris, they’re not really affected by wind it looks like.

“They just seem to turn when they want to turn and they have rear grip where everyone else is struggling.

“I don’t want to disappoint or bore any viewers, but they look quick.”