Williams in a ‘knife fight’ with F1 rivals
By Ian Parkes
Tuesday 28th March, 2023 - 3:23am
James Vowles has declared Williams to be in “a knife fight” with its F1 rivals this season after delivering a car that is no longer at the back of the grid.
A point in the first race of the season in Bahrain, courtesy of Alex Albon’s 10th place, was “on merit” as far as Vowles was concerned.
But for a brake failure in the second grand prix in Saudi Arabia, Albon might have arguably have been pushing for another top-1o finish.
After finishing last in the constructors’ championship in four of the last five seasons, this year’s FW45 at least appears capable of threatening the midfield more often than not.
Highlighting the possibilities ahead, Vowles said: “Going forward, there are going to be tracks that will definitely suit us.
“If you look to the breadth of last year and what happened with Williams there were tracks where definitely that car was competitive.
“Monza was very much one of them, and on the characteristics the car has, I suspect it will be again this year.
“There are tracks where the car was poor – Barcelona – and it will be again poor there.
“So there’s going to be up and down throughout the course of the season. It is still, though, even with that as a baseline, scratching and in a knife fight with the two or three teams around us.”
Specifically, Vowles is referring to Haas, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri as he is convinced McLaren will haul itself out of its current malaise.
“McLaren will sort their problems, I’m confident of that,” added Vowles. “That car is quick.
“So we have to acknowledge that we have to pick up everything we can from them until that happens, but there are still teams in and around our performance region.”
Williams has basic systems missing
After only stepping into his new role in late February after many years working at Mercedes, with the last four as head of strategy, in particular, Vowles’ eyes continue to be opened by what he has so far discovered at Williams.
The differences between the ‘haves and have nots’ continue to be underlined over time, with Vowles already conceding it will take him years to right the many wrongs of the past.
Asked as to what has been his biggest rude awakening to date, he replied: “It’s a mixture of rude awakening and how impressed I am.
“There are what I would consider being basics that are in place at other teams, and have been for almost 15 years especially, for example, around certain software systems.
“They are software systems that allow you to properly understand where all your parts are, (but) which simply don’t exist (at Williams).”
On the flip side, he added: “As a result of that, what impresses me is that before I joined, they’ve built the car you see in front of you – 15,000 pieces coming together, fitted, working, and seemingly going around the track fairly quickly.
“That’s an incredible accomplishment but clearly not how we can move forward.
“So we need systems in place and structures in place, and that was probably the one that took me back the most.”
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