Why Williams wants nothing more than a boring F1 practice in France


A combination of mixed weather practice at the British Grand Prix, a crash at the start line for Alex Albon and then the sprint format in Austria left him unable to go through the normal basic checks that he would normally do for such an important car. change.

Two normal race weekends would have given him six free practice sessions to put in as much time as he wanted. As he heads to France, he hasn’t been able to devote any time to what he needs to do.


That’s why, as he finally has enough parts to run his new update on Albon and Nicholas Latifi at this weekend’s French GP, a series of standard dry checks on Friday would be the best possible outcome.

As Dave Robson, vehicle performance manager at Williams, explains: “There’s definitely a bit of a reset. You have to go through that phase where you have to check that it behaves like the wind tunnel and the simulation says it does. should, in terms of where you want to adjust ride heights or anything else that affects airflow.

“Ideally we would have done this quite methodically and objectively during FP1 at Silverstone, had it not been for the rain.

“It would have been quite a boring session, but we would have collected the data, compared it to the simulations, and then hopefully got to grips with it fairly quickly. We didn’t get a chance to do that.

“We then chose not to do it in P2 at Silverstone because we just chose to suck it and see, and obviously in Austria we didn’t do it in P1 because we had all the prep work. race to do.

“We’ll probably have to do some of that in France and then hopefully we can make faster progress.”

While the upgraded Williams showed decent flashes of speed when launched and Albon nearly reached Q3 at the Austrian GP, ​​the team is still unsure of the extent of the improvement. brought by the new package.

Alex Albon, Williams FW44

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“It’s still hard to quantify,” Robson added. “Silverstone was difficult. In Austria, with only one practice session and a lot of race preparation homework to do, we didn’t do as much measuring work as we would have liked.

“There are signs of promise and good feedback from Alex. But I think we’re not there yet to figure out how to get the most out of it.”

Albon said in Austria that he thinks the new Williams is more “sharp”, which actually means it produces its best performance in a fairly narrow configuration window.

While this doesn’t sound like an ideal feature, Robson is far from alarmed and believes it’s just a consequence of a more capable car not being fully tuned at the moment.

“I think with aero the harder you push them which naturally happens. 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 is going to be unavoidable, and it’s just going to have to be absorbed into his riding style.”

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Ultimately, what Williams wants from the new car is both a step up in pace now and a better platform on which to target its longer-term ambitions into 2023. Robson says the team explores three different enhancements.

“It’s designed to be better balanced. And I think that’s showing signs, but there’s probably still a bit of work to be done mechanically to optimize what we have now aerodynamically,” he said. he declares. .

“Then I think it’s a better aero package in terms of downforce and drag. And then the third thing is, what we still have to prove, but that’s where the work continues in the tunnel, we think it’s much better platform for future development.

“So those are the kind of three things we’re aiming for. I think there are signs of all three, but we haven’t been able to quantify them yet.”

And that’s why a boring Friday at Paul Ricard, to set up that good foundation of understanding, is so important to Williams right now.