Albon says weight handicap masked strength of Williams car

Alex Albon says Williams had the car to be ahead of Mercedes at the start of this season but for the weight issues it has been facing in 2024.

Williams has been working to bring its car down to the weight limit ever since the start of the year, having been late delivering the FW46 and then having to divert resources to repairs after a number crashes early on. Further upgrades at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix are also focused on weight saving, and Albon says it’s a problem that has cost the team a chance of significant points.

“It’s the weight, basically!” Albon says about the lack of point-scoring chances this season. “If you look at it from race one, I think pace-wise we could have been likely in front of the Mercedes. We started off the year with a good base, possibly a car that we knew wasn’t going to have many upgrades for a while, but obviously as we were hit by the weight…


“Think of it more like what Haas do — start the year strong but then have fewer upgrades throughout the year. But with the weight, everything was offset so we’re starting from further back than what we expected to be.

“Racing is such a joint effort between team and driver. Last year we had a great car in a lot of races — it was peaky but we were able to score points when it mattered. This year we just haven’t been able to do that, there’s not been enough peaks for us — Monaco being one and Canada being the other. But when you’re handicapped by at some points four or five tenths a lap, especially at the start of the season, there’s not really much chance of scoring points.”

As the weight saving brings a performance gain that is not dependent on aerodynamic characteristics or getting car setup right, Albon says Williams would certainly have been at the front of the midfield with a car that hit the team’s original weight target.

“If you take the races so far this year, it’s almost a guarantee that we would have been,” he said. “I think now everyone’s starting to bring upgrades as we are getting closer to the target as well, it’s becoming less that case. Of course there’s still lap time in being on target to where we are now, but then again teams like RB have made huge progress — they’re developing very quickly as well. So start of the year, yes [we would have been at the front of the midfield], and now we’re at the early side of halfway, less so.”

Teammate Logan Sargeant looks set to lose his seat at Williams, and Albon adds the weight situation has also penalized the American.

“Obviously there’s no point speaking too soon [about Sargeant’s future]. He’s been doing a great job the last few races, I don’t think it’s really been understood, especially because we aren’t driving the same car,” Albon said. “I think this weekend will be the first weekend where it’s equal, so it has been tough for sure. I think he’s a great driver. He’s got great raw speed. We get on very well.”

Carlos Sainz has been heavily linked with Sargeant’s seat after team principal James Vowels admitted the Spaniard is his priority in terms of available drivers, and Albon admits he’s been kept in the loop with who the team is targeting but has no firm preference.

“Truthfully on my side I’m not so opinionated or fazed around who my teammate is,” he said. “In terms of experience and general developing of the team, of course it would be beneficial. We’re on this long journey, on this long project — we need feedback. I look at myself back from my Red Bull days, and when I joined Williams there were a lot of things that I could bring to the table that I felt were helping my feedback but also the performance of the car.

“To be honest with you, there’s so many names on the list, whoever it may be I think it would generally be a driver with experience that would come in, and then it’s not really my say but it would be important for us. Especially if we want to be fighting in the midfield in the next few years.”

Story originally appeared on Racer