Only Aston Martin have made a bigger step in 2023 than Williams – Albon

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In the round-up: Williams’ Alex Albon praises the team’s jump up Formula 1’s pecking order for 2023.

In brief

Albon encouraged by Williams’ gains since 2022

Alex Albon said he had “a really tough race” en route to tenth in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but was thrilled to make the points and rival Alpine who finished six places higher than Williams in the 2022 standings.

The streamlined design of the Williams FW45 meant Albon had a higher straight-line speed than many on-track rivals as he rose up from 15th on the grid to bring home a point for Williams in race one of a season for the first time since 2017.

“The wind made the cars I think for everyone much more disconnected than yesterday,” said Albon. “So to have the pace we had under the circumstances, I have to say I’m super proud.”

His fastest lap of the weekend was 1.265 seconds up on his best lap at Bahrain in 2022. Aston Martin was the only other team to lap more than a second faster than they did last year.

“Everyone I’m sure is looking at the Aston Martin right now on the podium and thinking what a step they’ve done. But we’re second [in lap time gain since 2022]. Where you look at us from last year to this year in this position, 12 months on, I have to say we’ve done an amazing job.”

When asked if Williams could score regularly in 2023, Albon replied: “I believe so. I wouldn’t have said so coming into this weekend. But after this weekend, who knows anymore? We qualified out of position. We should have qualified higher up.”

“The fact that we were racing the Alpines is a great sign,” he added. “We had our elbows out. I enjoyed my overtake on Esteban [Ocon].”

Horner: “We fully expect our rivals to come back hard”

Race start, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023
Poll: Vote for your 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix driver of the weekend
Red Bull may have taken a one-two in qualifying and the race at Bahrain, but team principal Christian Horner does not expect the team to dominate 2023 after Mercedes’ George Russell said the reigning champions “should win every race” with their current pace.

Russell’s comments were put to Horner, whose team won 17 grands prix out of 22 in 2022, and he said: “23 races is a marathon. It’s about being consistent over the campaign. Today was a great start [for] both drivers.

“Checo lost out at the start, the dirty side [of the grid], the benefit of the brand new tyre off the start line for Charles [Leclerc]. But the strategy and the pace we had enabled Checo to pass him. Then it was a question of managing the race to the finish. But we fully expect our rivals to come back hard in the future races.”

Hamiton’s Extreme E team partners with F2’s Carlin

Lewis Hamilton’s Extreme E team X44 has entered a partnership with Formula 2 team Rodin Carlin.

The third XE season begins this weekend, and X44 are the reigning champions. The driver line-up for their car will be different this year, as rallycross racer Fraz McConnell replaces rally legend Sebastien Loeb alongside Cristina Gutierrez.

Carlin’s co-team principal Stephanie Carlin will assume the team principal role at X44, and Stephanie Travers – who first started working with Hamilton as a trackside fluid engineer for Mercedes’ supplier Petronas in F1 – is promoted from associate sporting director to become deputy team principal.

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Comment of the day

Alfa Romeo admitted they went for the fastest lap at the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix to prevent Alpine from scoring the extra point for being fastest. Scoring a point for fastest lap has been part of the F1 rules since 2019, and led to many instances of drivers pitting late in a race for fresh tyres purely to set the fastest lap. The rule’s influence on races has not impressed everyone.

I still really dislike the silly bonus point for fast lap because as this and the many instances of someone pitting late for fresh tyres shows it’s an utterly irrelevant metric that is simply not worthy of an extra point which lets not forget could skew the championship as we have had championships decided by 1 point or less.

I mean is it something fans really care about? It barely gets talked about on the broadcast, drivers and teams rarely (if ever) talk about it and it’s just something that doesn’t feel important (or worthy) enough to warrant a potentially championship deciding point. Awards points for finishing position which is the only real metric that should matter in the championship.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Icthyes, Les, Preekel, Rebecca, Stig Semper Fi and Mark Adams!

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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16 comments on “Only Aston Martin have made a bigger step in 2023 than Williams – Albon”

  1. I have no issues with awarding a point for fastest lap. In fact, I enjoy the extra strategic decisions and risk that a team or driver needs to make to get it. It also allows teams further down the order to have an impact on the race and perhaps gain some measure of pride.

    Barely gets talked about? It gets mentioned almost every race. I’m a fan.

    1. I don’t like that sometimes all you have to do is pit for a new tires and it’s an easy point. At the same time, if you’re, say, winning the race and you have the fastest lap with two laps to go, you may lose it if some backmarker decides to pit for the softs and go for a glory run in the last lap. I think that most times this point is not earned or lost on merit, so it looks more like a joke to me. I wouldn’t mind it if it earner more “naturally”, but I can’t think of decent rules for this. I wouldn’t mind it if only a race winner could get an extra point for the fastest lap. As a “strategic element” this rule failed for me, since we’re mostly talking about exploiting the rules, and not about someone who really had the best one-lap pace.

      1. if it was earned more “naturally”* Forgive my typing.

      2. If only the race winner could get the fastest lap, that would just extend their advantage, wouldn’t it.
        They already have the fastest car and get the most points….

        In reality, this is only an issue because F1 hasn’t sufficiently brought the field together in performance.
        It’s exacerbated by the fact that only the top 10 finishers qualify for it – those who already get points… Meaning those outside of the top 10 have nothing to gain from it themselves – they are just playing dirty games.

        The fastest lap point is a good incentive for someone to try something (ie take a risk) in the closing stages of the race – it’s just a waste that only the top half of the field can gain from it directly. F1 needs more cars scoring points, especially those further back in the field.
        After all, if a lower-midfielder can be the fastest car on the track, that just says that the leaders don’t have anywhere near enough incentive to go faster themselves. There simply isn’t sufficient competition to push them, nor sufficient reward for doing so off their own bat.
        That is a fundamental problem that no points system can ever solve.

      3. Yes, you are right, but I’m willing to accept the few times where it is meaningless for the times where it has an actual impact. Keep in mind that every time a driver pits, there is a bit of risk that the stop gets botched.

    2. I agree. Indeed we saw Ferrari take the risk and lose out last season. I like the extra element it can sometimes bring.

    3. I like it too. It adds another element. And we’re talking about it now, aren’t we!

      I don’t remember specifics but I believe there was at least one race a few years ago when several teams pitted towards the last lap and tried to get that final point. And I also think there have been occasions where drivers have tried this and lost positions due to the team miscalculating the gap to the next driver. Going for that extra point is risky and therefore adds excitement.

    4. Yeah, it’s been a good addition to the races. I don’t know what broadcast CotD watches, but F1TV commentary never fails to mention it. It’s often something we hear the drivers talk about during the race, and we’ve seen things like Charles Leclerc almost throw away a position at the end of the Belgian GP last year just for it. It’s not always that exciting, but it certainly adds some flavor to the tactics at the end of races.

      1. I’d prefer they award a point for pole rather than the fastest lap of the race.

  2. Rather than him qualifying higher than he should’ve, being out of position meant lower this time around.
    Therefore, final race positions came more or less on pure pace.

    While RB mightn’t be a clear-cut favorite on all tracks, I still expect them to win in Jeddah, Melbourne, etc.

    A slightly touching story, but recovering was the most important thing.
    Perhaps he’ll avoid injury risks relatively close to season-openers in the future, or more specifically, cycling on open & rough roads with relatively little lead time that can make things tight.

    I’ve never disliked the fastest lap bonus point, not even the tactical aspect of taking that away from someone else as the sole motive.

  3. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
    8th March 2023, 8:14

    But we fully expect our rivals to come back hard in the future races.

    Horner sounds a lot like Wolff used to sound not that long ago while Mercedes was still dominating. So far I’m not as fed up with Horner as I was with Wolff, but I suppose it’s early days still.

    On a quasi-related note: As far as I’m aware, Grosjean still hasn’t done that Mercedes test he was promised after Bahrain 2020. I wonder if the prospect has lost some of its appeal to him over the last year or so.

    1. Well, part of the team principals job is to manage expectations. So Horner’s doing what Wolff did, because no one likes a sore winner– “We beat you, and we’re going to keep beating you for the rest of the season!! NYAAAAAHHHHH!”.

      Having said that, I got tired of Horner’s constant whinging back in 2010– when they were winning everything AND STILL COMPLAINING. I think he threatened to quit the sport every year from 2008 to 2013, because they didn’t have “engine parity”– with the most successful engine of the V8 era. Then we had to listen to nearly a decade of “our engine isn’t good enough” from them– which to be fair, it wasn’t, but coming off the back of 8 championships in 4 years, you’re not going to get much sympathy.

  4. Aston Martin’s jump of more than two seconds, is that the biggest jump a team has done inside what is broadly the same regulations? I can’t think of another team that has ever found so much time. It’s not like Bahrain is a long track. Dan Fallows should consider auctioning himself off at Sotherby’s for charity.

    1. Probably when the “pink Mercedes” rocked up is the last time a team made such a huge jump (albeit still not 2s I believe) and that by and large was the same thing, they copied the front running teams previous year car. This time it does look like they did a bit more than just copy the Red Bull though. I think it says more about how awful their car was at the start of last year as much as it does about their gains too.

      1. And Hulkenberg, not Vettel, was driving it.

    2. @bernasaurus Possibly or at least afair & not a massively long track, but relatively long, so perhaps some impact from lap length, although Jeddah Corniche Circuit at 6.174 km will give a better idea.

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