James Vowles, Williams, Las Vegas Strip Circuit 2023

Williams’ “incredible” Vegas qualifying made us “poor” in race – Vowles

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Williams‘ pace which earned their best qualifying result for six years in Las Vegas was also the reason they were unable to score points in the race, says team principal James Vowles.

Alexander Albon and Logan Sargeant lined up fifth and sixth respectively last weekend, giving the team its best starting positions since the 2017 Italian Grand Prix. However they slipped back in the race where Albon finished 12th, four places ahead of his team mate.

Vowles said the team’s qualifying performance was so good he was immediately concerned about what it would mean for their race pace.

“Qualifying was clearly incredible,” he said in a video released by the team. “It was a great feeling being right up there with the giants and fighting with them. Fifth and sixth was an incredible result.

“I held a level of nervousness at the time because whenever you’re that quick on one lap, it can be that you’re also going to be poor on the race one. And that’s what transpired and happened to us.”

He noted his drivers’ starting high positions were partly due to “fortune” as a result of setbacks others encountered.

“We had cars out of position. We had a Mercedes out of position, a Red Bull out of position and a Ferrari with a penalty. So we have to be conscious that the real position of the car was, perhaps performance-wise, towards the back end of that top 10. But irrespective, those are the positions that we secured on the day.”

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However Vowles believes the team’s efforts to optimise its one-lap pace took the car too far away from an ideal set-up for the race.

“We weren’t quite where we should be in car set-up terms,” he said. “There’s a little bit of an optimum region.

“But we have to remember anything we would have done differently, we wouldn’t have had that qualifying result. So whether points were on the table or not I’m not sure afterwards. We need to go through it. But what’s clear is we weren’t quick enough in the race.”

He believes the FW45’s set-up was over-stressing their tyres in race conditions. “Our race pace wasn’t where we needed it to be,” he said.

“We were clearly having a very significant front-right graining. You can see that just tearing that front-right tyre apart and we lost out performance as a result. We also had rear overheating so we suffered from two different things in the race and I think other cars were in a much better place than we were.

“There’s always a trade-off you can do in set-up to get a balance from where you want the car to be in qualifying and where you want to be in the race. I think, and this is only in hindsight now after we completed the events, we had a car that was just putting a little bit too much energy into the rear tyres and the front tyres, and that’s what caused those problems.

“We can, of course rectify that for next year, but the result is where it is. What we need to also remember, is anything we would have done that would have created more race pace would have meant that we we’re fifth or sixth on the grid, that was achieved by having the tyres in just the perfect window and you can’t have both.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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1 comments on “Williams’ “incredible” Vegas qualifying made us “poor” in race – Vowles”

  1. you get the feeling his mind is just so direct, by being able to organise a million items into one stream

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