Williams needs to fine-tune the balance of its improved Formula 1 car as the extra downforce has made it slightly harder to drive, says Alex Albon.
A noticeably different FW44 burst onto the scene at the British Grand Prix, described by team technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison as a new car, before the final part of the upgrade was ready for the race. next race in Austria.
Williams was unable to get his initial car design to run as low and stiff as needed, leading to mechanical grip and handling issues and scoring just three points in nine races, all thanks to Albon’s opportunistic performances.
After a crash at the start wiped out Albon from the British GP, an encouraging Q3 near miss a week later in Austria hinted at the improved Williams’ greater potential.
“The charge is better,” confirmed Albon. “Actually, if anything, it’s a little harder to drive, it’s a little sharper in that sense.
“But if you can do it, that’s fine.
“There’s a bit of a learning curve and obviously we don’t want it to always be sharp and tricky.
“With the limited number of races we’ve done, that’s the general feeling so far.”
He added: “We have more support, that’s clear. It’s a bit trickier to use in some places. But the way I see it is that we have the support.
“It’s important. Then he tries to get the car to get the balance.
“We have the rest of the season to do it. And we have a good platform to start with.
“It’s not the most complex car in that sense and we can build on that. It’s a good base.
Williams vehicle performance manager Dave Robson felt the feature would be partly an inevitable consequence of greater downforce and partly something the team can improve with a better mechanical setup.
The new car had an inconclusive debut at Silverstone as dry-running practice was limited, qualifying was wet and the British GP at Albon ended before the first corner.
Williams had a better opportunity to evaluate the car in Austria, but the sprint weekend format limited practice time.
This means the team is still very early in the process of understanding the new car and how to run it as efficiently as possible.
“He described it as being a bit sharp, which to some extent I think with aerodynamics the more you push them back, that happens naturally,” Robson said of Albon’s comments.
“Hopefully with a little more work on the mechanical side of things to complement the aero, we can sort out some of that.
“But I think some of that will be unavoidable and will just have to be absorbed into his driving style.”
Robson outlined three things the revised FW44 aims to achieve over its predecessor.
“It’s designed to be better balanced,” Rosbon said.
“And I think it shows signs of that. But there’s probably still a bit of work to be done mechanically to optimize what we have now aerodynamically.
“It’s just a better aero package in terms of downforce and drag.
“And then the third thing, which we still have to prove but that’s where the work is happening in the tunnel, is that we think it’s a much better platform for the future.
“Those are the three objectives we are aiming for. I think there are signs of all three, but we haven’t been able to quantify them yet. »
This makes the next two events before the summer break very important for Williams, as France and Hungary will be played under normal formats.
Williams initially feared that Albon’s crash at Silverstone could delay Nicholas Latifi from using the upgrades at this weekend’s French Grand Prix, where he was originally due to receive them.
Those fears, however, proved unfounded, with Robson confirming that “both cars can run” the new Paul Ricard parts.
This will give Williams two cars of data and a lot more track time with the upgrade package than he has had so far.
“Having two cars with this kit on it and racing consistently, hopefully all the dry sessions and so on, I think we’ll learn a lot more than double the rate we have,” Robson said.
“Let’s hope that once we arrive in France, and between France and the summer break, we will accelerate [the understanding] fast enough.”
Latifi said of the package: “We’ve seen some positive signs on Alex’s car so far so I’m looking forward to getting a first look.
“Hopefully it can give us that little extra bit of relative pace that we’ve been missing and put us more into the fight.
“More than anything, I’m looking forward to further development of the car and hopefully we can get some good data in the future.”