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Albon interview: How face of Williams revival is keen to push even further

The Williams racer sat down with select media including RacingNews365 for a chat reflecting on his second season at the team, one in which it went from also-ran to consistent midfield points-earner with seventh in the standings.

Albon Brazilie
Interview
To news overview © XPBimages

After being discarded by Red Bull at the end of 2020 and spending a year recreating Lewis Hamilton's lines at Silverstone after the infamous clash with Max Verstappen on the opening lap of the 2021 British GP, Alex Albon was thrown a Formula 1 lifeline by Williams for '22.

He hit the ground running a strong point in Australia, but the package was still weak as the team scored eight points all-season as Albon tried to blow the cobwebs away, but still earned plaudits for his efforts.

Come 2023, with new team boss James Vowles in tow, Albon scored 27 points and led Williams to seventh in the Constructors' - a leap of millions of dollars in prize money from the last place it had earned in four of the previous five seasons, 2021 being the exception.

Albon spearheaded Williams' return to midfield respectability as the FW45 proved a capable points-scorer, once a big mid-season upgrade was introduced in Canada, with the Thai scoring in seven races plus one Sprint.

His performances marked him out as one of the best-performers on the grid, well above the 13th he took in the Drivers'.

Albon is now inextricably-linked as the face of Williams' revival under Vowles, and spoke at length to select media including RacingNews365 of his own performances in 2023, and how his performance and that of the car must meld together to extract results.

Driver and team must work as one

"On a personal level, I don't think it has changed so much from last year," says Albon when asked if he felt a difference in performance level from 2022 to 2023.

"Most of it comes from a bit more confidence in myself, as last year was a bit of year back to prove myself, I felt like I did that and this year was more about: 'Okay, how do I bring this team up and get them moving to be where they need to be?'

"Experience is a big element, not just in Formula 1, but within the team, and I will give you an example.

"Let's say I go into Free Practice 2 [in Abu Dhabi], I already know what the car is going to feel like, I know what corners are going to be the limitations and which ones it works well.

"There is always a reaction into a weekend where you're already one step ahead of where you were the year before, and that does make a really big difference, because you can go into a weekend, pre-empting issues and knowing your strengths and weaknesses as a driver, but also in the car itself. That has been very useful.

"The last thing is also that when you have a car that is quicker and a bit easier to drive, you can exploit the downforce beyond the limit and the ceiling of the car.

"A lot of that comes from the car being better, and it not just a driving thing and it because the car's window is a bit [wider] and it was not as extreme as last year.

"You can drive on the limit more often and be more confident on the car, and that is not just through myself, but it is because the car allows me to do that.

"I've mentioned it before, but it is the same for Lando [Norris] and Oscar [Piastri at McLaren] as well. They haven't just got better when the upgrade happens, they're very good drivers who along with the car, helps them flourish.

"That is no different to what it is like at Williams."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

"You can exploit the downforce beyond the limit and the ceiling of the car"

- Alex Albon on a stronger car package

Why Mexico fell away for Williams

Throughout practice for the Mexico City Grand Prix, Albon showed impressive pace and was tipped for a strong starting position on the grid.

However, the FW45 struggled badly in qualifying, starting 14th before Albon climbed to ninth to bag two points in the race.

When the underperformance was put to him, Albon explained how the focus on such under-deliverance can sometimes be placed at the driver's door when it might not be entirely their fault.

"[The media] can look at it as being too driver-focused," says Albon.

"It is never driver-focused. It is driver and car-focused.

"In Las Vegas, we had a rim-heating set-up on the car which enabled us to fire up the tyres extremely quickly, and that enabled us to start P5 and P6 on the grid, but Lap 1 of the race, I was overheating the tyres.

"That is not driver-related and that is the compromise. We over-performed in qualifying, and I don't think it is a driver over or under-performing. I did the job I needed to and qualified.

"It over-achieved the true pace of the car, I don't think we should have been P5 and P6, we should have really been P10, P11 and finished maybe a position or two higher.

"In Mexico, we were top three in FP1 and FP3, and in FP2 and qualifying, the track temperature went up about 10 degrees, and we couldn't get the tyres to work.

"There's not these ups and downs that you see maybe from the outside. I actually think it has been a super consistent season, and I don't think in qualifying, I've made a major mistake.

"In races, my biggest regret is Melbourne, throwing away a points position and I definitely should have done a better job, but it is quite hard to view from the outside.

"There's so many things that go on that no-one actually ever sees."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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