Albon: Sargeant’s 2023 F1 struggles natural in “easy to overdrive” Williams that requires “experience”

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Alex Albon believes some of the unique handling characteristics of Williams’ 2023 F1 car require “experience” to manage, and meant Logan Sargeant had a “difficult challenge” in hands to learn the FW45 in what was his rookie season.

Photo Credits: Williams Racing

The Thai driver has repeatedly spoken about Williams’ struggles during his two years at the Grove squad, and more recently explained how the car’s peakiness gives the drivers a “pretty extreme” experience in the cockpit, which varies wildly even during the same weekend between qualifying and race day.

Albon says that the FW45’s unique traits meant his team-mate Logan Sargeant had to face an even tougher challenge during what was his debut season in F1. Sargeant failed, generally, to match Albon’s pace and consistency – and the points tally reflect that, with the American scoring just a singular point at the US GP after two disqualifications ahead, whilst the Thai scored 27 points, reaching the top 10 on multiple occasions.

Speaking to selected media at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, the former Red Bull driver explained how his experience has proved a key factor in better “understanding the Williams” in particular, something which Sargeant couldn’t rely on as it was his first year in the sport:

“I think our car is easier to overdrive than to underdrive,” he explained. “It’s very easy to go in too deep into a corner and lose your lap because of the front-locking problem.

“You have to have the experience to understand it. [Even] myself from last year to this year I’ve improved, and that’s already having a previous two years in Formula One. That’s just me understanding the Williams car, let’s say.”

He further explained that the team has had to put its strengths and weaknesses to work in their favour this season, perhaps overdoing it and hurting its chances of doing the overall fastest possible lap time at a certain circuit, in order to prioritize the strengths, like their superior straight line speed in order to get a decent result.

A great example of this was during the Canadian GP, in which Albon always had a superior exit out of the hairpin compared to his rivals, and remained unchallenged approaching the final chicane, which meant he was able to secure an impressive P7 finish after a good defensive drive:

“So it is a difficult challenge. I think it’s mainly about learning the weaknesses and the strengths, and [that] then helping you use that to race against other people, using your weaknesses and strengths.

“For example, this year [we were] setting up the car for a particular corner before a very long straight, to make you’re not vulnerable to getting overtaken, and [it’s] stuff like this that makes a big difference to our end result.

“Maybe it’s not always ‘optimal’ what we’ve been doing in terms of [overall] lap time, but we’ve been able to get the car to cross the line in a valuable position.”