Williams predict ‘mayhem’ for Baku sprint
By Ian Parkes
Friday 21st April, 2023 - 10:55pm
Williams team principal James Vowles is predicting “a little bit of mayhem” across the sprint race weekend in Azerbaijan.
On Tuesday (April 25), it is anticipated that F1 and the FIA will confirm changes to the format which will see the sprint as a standalone event with its own shortened version of qualifying, all taking place on Saturday.
The standard Friday qualifying session, which had previously set the grid for the sprint, will now provide the line-up for Sunday’s grand prix.
The concern for all is staging such events around a street track where accidents and incidents have been rife over the years.
“It is going to be a sprint race weekend, potentially with slight modifications to the rules we have had previously,” said Vowles.
“That work is ongoing in the background to understand how we should restructure the race weekend and what the implications of that will be on everyone.
“Irrespective of whether the rules change or not, a sprint race weekend at that tight, twisty track where you go through the castle section is going to cause a little bit of mayhem. There are going to be difficulties.”
Williams’ position unfair on performance so far
It could prove to be a costly weekend for any particular team should it be involved in a crash early on, and with the next race in Miami following just a week later.
The double-header starts an intense period of 10 races in 14 weekends before the summer break.
Williams head into it again lying 10th in the constructors’ championship, a position it has become familiar with in recent years, but with Vowles buoyed by what he has seen so far in the opening three races since taking up his new role.
“We’re three rounds into this 23-race season and ‘encouraging’ is the primary word that comes to mind,” said Vowles.
“We’ve been there or thereabouts in the ability to fight for points at every single one of those rounds so far.
“Whilst we sit here 10th in the championship with just a point to our name, it is not a fair reflection of the work that has gone into this car so far this year or the performance the car can have track to track.”
Believing the Baku Street Circuit to be a venue that will at least “suit the capability” of the FW45, Vowles is wary of the crammed schedule looming.
“It’s just going to be this rollercoaster of race after race,” said Vowles.
“We just need to make sure we learn everything from the previous races, reset, and go on and do the best we can at the next.”
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