Alexander Albon, Williams, Zandvoort, 2023

Williams “on par with Ferrari and Aston Martin” at Zandvoort – Albon

2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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After matching his career-best qualifying result, Williams’ Alexander Albon converted fourth on the grid into eighth in Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix.

It was Albon’s fourth points finish of 2023, and joint second-best result since joining Williams last year. He achieved it despite staying out on slick tyres through an early downpour and dropping to 15th. At that moment Albon thought his chance of scoring points was over, but admitted “we really stuck to our guns” on strategy and it paid off.

While some drivers had pitted twice by lap 10, which helped Albon recover four places, he did not change tyres until lap 44 of 72 when he came in from sixth to swap his ageing soft compound tyres for a set of mediums. But more heavy rain prompted Albon to pit from third on lap 61 and switch to intermediate tyres which he ran to the finish.

“I think we were on par with the Astons and Ferraris this weekend,” he reckoned. “We did that first stint and in the whole stint we maybe lost two seconds to the Aston and the Ferrari in front of us. And we were on 15-lap, 10-lap older tyres than they were.”

Albon was 16.8 seconds behind Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso – who finished second – after the latter switched back to slicks on lap 11, and the gap had reduced before the Safety Car came out on lap 16. Following the restart, it grew by 9.386s over 21 laps before Albon pitted.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, the Ferrari driver in front of Albon, made his second stop on lap 11 and increased his gap over the Williams by 0.666s before the Safety Car appeared, then after the lap 22 restart pulled away by 2.12s before pitting on lap 41.

Albon said his “mammoth stint” on soft tyres is only possible “when the car’s good, and the car was very strong this weekend”.

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“It was very easy to control the front degradation, the rear deg, just with tools and driving. I was always able to shift the balance where I needed it to be. Then we put on the mediums and then we were making our way up the order.”

He was in sixth during his second stint and thinking “this is perfect” before he was informed more rain was on its way. Williams waited before pitting again, and Albon thought he had timed it well until the rain meant he “was crawling in the last four corners”. That allowed McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes’ George Russell to get ahead of him.

“It happens,” said Albon. “It’s one of them things where it feels like we finished today slightly disappointed that we didn’t finish sixth, but we still finished eighth, it’s still an amazing result for us.

“We’ve been here on pace this weekend, there’s no mistake about it. It’s been our strongest weekend, it’s the best I’ve felt in the car in my time at Williams and there’s so many positives to take from here.”

He added: “We were very strong and we overtook a Mercedes. Of course we had a tyre advantage, but to overtake a car around this track you need a good second-and-a-half pace advantage to be able to do it, and we did it. It gives me a lot of confidence going into Monza [this weekend].

“At the same time, it confuses me a little bit. We did a couple of set-up things this weekend which works, but I think they only work in high-downforce circuits. I don’t think you can get away with them in low-downforce tracks. So it will be interesting. We’ll take some learnings from this weekend and see what happens in Monza.”

Williams scored at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza the last two years, accounting for four of the nine grands prix which they scored in those two seasons. But they did not score at Spa last month despite their straight-line speed advantage frustrating rivals.

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2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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16 comments on “Williams “on par with Ferrari and Aston Martin” at Zandvoort – Albon”

  1. very excited to see if Williams can weaponize their drag defying car at the Temple of Speed

  2. For me, their performance was unexpected. At Spa I saw a Williams that was very fast on the straights but lagging behind in the slow corners on a wet track. With Zandvoort being so narrow and twisty (and wet), I expected Williams to struggle here. Now they found performance in the corners, but I hope they maintain their straight line speed. If so, then it bodes well for Monza.

    1. Coventry Climax
      28th August 2023, 17:08

      Then, with all due respect, no offense etc., you haven’t been paying real attention. Focused on onther things?
      From the start of the season already, the signs have been there. Williams however, aren’t used to being where they are anymore, so there’s a lot of little things that they will have to make fall into place again. There’s obviously no guarantee, but so far, they’re getting there, little by little.

      1. I do think that your comment is slightly offensive, but perhaps I didn’t focus on Williams enough like you said. But maybe you misunderstood my post. I realize that Williams is doing really well this year, but I did see that their speed in slow corners at Spa was subpar. So his pace at Zandvoort was at least surprising to me, not his general pace this year.

        1. I think what he is referring to is that your information is incorrect. Williams top speed hasn’t been massive for a while now and they have been good in corners. I think it was Peter Windsor who delved into it in a video (I might be wrong), commentators have still been saying it (Crofty), but they are wrong.

          1. Well, Zandvoort is twisty and Williams was fast there, so obviously I was wrong.

        2. Coventry Climax
          30th August 2023, 10:46


          Bit late maybe, you may never see this, but still.
          I had no intention to offend you in any way, and tried to make that clear in my first sentence. Maybe I should have worded things differently.

    2. As Albon said the wind at Zandvoort helped their car massive the right wind in the corners so they got extra downforce they are going to examine why that was.

      1. Will be interesting to see if Williams can make the gap, sounds like there is a factor they need to address, and in this they might be able to find themselves mid field again, on their own merit.

    3. As a completely biased Williams fan, the idea of them being back up there fighting with Ferrari and McLaren is so exciting. That’s really where they should be. I cannot see how they can ever compete for championships again while running Mercedes engines but this is certainly a really good trajectory, and there seems to be a fantastic buzz and confidence at Williams since Vowles’ appointment. It looks like they’re understanding this car now – they’ve had the top speed for a while but it seems almost equally as good on the twisty bits. I’m hoping some good results this year could entice an experienced second driver next year alongside Albon. Monza could be their best chance at big points – alpine are a little far away in the constructors but holding onto 7th would be a really good result. And although it’s hard to fully evaluate Albons performances against rookie team mates, I think he’s doing everything right in that team.

  3. Williams is a pretty decent midfield car at the moment.
    Reminds me of the Force India car of 2009. Started the season as the worst team of the grid, ended it as a very good place to be.

  4. I’ve seen a lot of comments that the cost cap means that no one will be able to catch up to Red Bull until 2026, and that is probably true unfortunately. But it also has meant that teams like Williams can now start to fight teams like Aston and Ferrari, which is great for the sport.

    1. True, this is a great thing, and maybe the uncompetitiveness with red bull has to do with ferrari and merc dropping the ball during the winter, in the sense, mclaren and aston got in the mix with them, but ferrari and merc were the only ones close enough in 2022 to be able to really fight red bull in 2023, and because they didn’t make a good car now we’re stuck with a dominant team and 4 B tier teams (not counting williams yet).

      I think f1 should do something to bring red bull down to earth, cause with the budget cap it’s hard to recover such a massive gap and domination like this till 2026 isn’t good for the sport.

  5. This makes me soooooooo happy…

    1. Me too. Williams fans have waited a LONG time for this improvement.

  6. think they must have upgraded the underside a lot compared to the plain Monaco one

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