Alexander Albon, Williams, Albert Park, 2024

Williams began fixing Albon’s wrecked car at 2am on Monday

Formula 1

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Williams say the efforts to repair Alexander Albon’s car for next week’s Japanese Grand Prix will not prevent them bringing minor upgrades to the race.

Only one FW26 started the Australian Grand Prix after Albon crashed heavily at turn seven during the opening practice session. He took over the car of team mate Logan Sargeant, who missed the race as a result.

Team principal James Vowles said the damaged FW46 was returned to their base as quickly as possible in order to repair it in time for transportation to Suzuka.

“I’m confident we’ll be able to fix the chassis,” he said in a video published by the team. “We put measures in place to make sure the chassis was back here very early on Monday morning.

“It arrived around 2am or so and since then there was already crews inside the building working on that, stripping it down and doing repairs. We’re in a good place for having the chassis back early enough for Suzuka.”

The team at the track ensured those back at the factory were ready to begin the repair work immediately, said Vowles. “A lot of the work was done back in Melbourne. There was photographs and techniques called NDT, which is non-destructive testing, there’s various ones you can do that [which] allows us to fully understand how big the damage is and what we have to do.

“That preparation was key. What it meant was already at 2am on Monday, work could start. It wasn’t then a reflection on what was happening, it was more ‘this is what we’re doing and this is how we execute it’. So in Suzuka we’ll have two cars without too many issues.”

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Vowles admitted the crash meant the team still won’t have a spare car available in Japan.

“The original plan for the season start was to have three chassis, as you would expect, at round one,” he explained. “That gently slipped towards round three as items became more and more delayed. Since then, and especially with the work that we’re doing now on chassis number two, that was again going to be a small amount of delay.”

However he expects it won’t delay work on coming upgrades for the FW46, some of which will arrive in Japan next week.

“There’s no doubt an accident like the one Alex had in Melbourne will cost you,” he said. “It’s an amount of time that we hadn’t expected to be working on an item, in this case on the chassis, and it takes workload out of the system.

“The upgrades that we have in the pipeline for Japan will still appear. So that’s the positive news. They’re small items but every single one will contribute towards the bigger performance picture.

“There might be items down the line that are slightly impacted, but the team at the moment is doing a really good job trying to absorb the additional workload without impacting on the down-the-line upgrades. So there’ll be items appearing around about round six or so, and a few other items beyond that as well.”

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Keith Collantine
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30 comments on “Williams began fixing Albon’s wrecked car at 2am on Monday”

  1. I wonder how many chassis teams actually build and use over the entire season. Yes, we are in a budget cap era they can’t build a huge amount, but given the stresses, strains and other things like crash damage, how many miles does one tub go through before it needs replacing through general wear and tear? I mean, imagine if you had your road car serviced every single time you went to the shops.

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      28th March 2024, 13:16

      It depends. I do know Brawn GP built three for 09 and survived the entire season with only three. Jenson drove the entire season with the same car (notwithstanding his crash at Spa)

      I have heard top teams in the pre-cost cap era build as many as eight

    2. Not a lot. Think about 4 to 6 chassis in general. I would be that many teams didn’t had more than 5 last season.

    3. I think i read somewhere pre-budget cap that it was 5-6 monocoques per year, wouldn’t surprise me if those numbers have gone down by 1. Thing is, the rules don’t forbid rolling a monocoque (or at least its basic shape/design) over into the following season, and the only limitation on that would be how much one can update it.

      I guess this year every team has started with a 2nd cycle of monocoque design into the season (after carrying 2022 tubs into 2023) and will carry them on to ’25, before building completely new chassis for the new regulations in 2026. There’s Formula Student teams who have this MO as far as their chassis is concerned, so wouldn’t surprise me if F1 follows a similar philosphy under the budget cap

      1. @xenn1 5-6 indeed on average, but teams don’t literally roll over into the following season, with 2020 to ’21 being an exception, as was 2014-15 for Manor, & a more general thing in the distant past with more freedom.

        1. @jerejj yeah what i’m talking about specifically is reusing the same tooling for the chassis, which means the outer shape is more or less the same (with a certain degree of freedom to move inserts here and there) and rather just focusing on the carbon fibre layups or the core material in the sandwich structure, which comes with potential to improve weight distribution and torsional stiffness.
          And after using the same tooling for 2 years you move onto a new tooling that would be ideally optimised (with a new outer shape and all). But yeah you’re right, literally just taking the old chassis and bolting the new aero parts on it isn’t something you can do nowadays in F1

    4. I’m wondering how much heavier it’s going to weigh? They’ll most likely will be adding a lot more epoxy and carbon than removing.

      May not be too surprised if they keep Albon in Sargeants car and Sargeant drives the heavier repaired chassis?

      Williams strategy to keep Albon in the race was very sound. The prediction of attrition and potential for points for a slower team in AUS was correct, Albon almost did it and Williams were going to look like rock stars; but he had a bad start to his race. Amazingly, at the end he finished 11th, close but no cigar.

      1. there’s no way that Sargeant would have agreed to that, nor do I think Vowels would survive thst massacre in the press/social

      2. The strategy to race Albon instead of Sargeant was not necessary. Sargeant could have finished in the same position quite easily. They got no points, undermined Sargeant publicly and brokered some poor PR. Further, they ran the risk of Albon being smashed in the media (and his confidence being knocked) if he binned it again, which given his form in Melbourne was a possibility.

        1. I don’t think I agree with that. Based on the past year, Sargeant has never finished higher than Albon in races they both completed, and usually many places behind. He also has a worse record for crashing in practice / quali. And if I remember correctly, he spun out in practice in Melbourne, but was lucky enough to keep away from the wall.

          Given the circumstances I don’t think Williams really had much option. The real question here is why Sargeant still has a seat when there are many other better-qualified youngsters cooling their heels.

          1. I agree with that Avro. I think it is worth remembering this is (or was) primarily a team sport. People always call foul when team orders are used on track, and yet it would be quite legit in the race to tell Sergeant to move over because Albon has a better chance of scoring points. This is really no different, just a team order to give the team the best chance in their opinion of scoring points.

  2. Williams say the efforts to repair Alexander Albon’s car for next week’s Japanese Grand Prix will not prevent them bringing minor upgrades to the race.

    Of this I am absolutely certain.
    Whether they have a chassis to apply then to.,hmm not so much

  3. These guys can’t even build 3 chassis yet they won’t let Andretti in with the backing of GM

    The sport is in such a weird place nowadays.

    1. F1 should be for teams that are competitive for podiums and wins, FOM said so!

      And Aston Martin, Mercedes, some more Red Bull cars, Haas, and any of the three teams that hasn’t even scored a single point. They’re welcome too. But not the Americans.

      1. MichaelN, that said, the legal fight that the Andretti’s ended up in with the Dillon Construction Group (DCG) over the construction of their planned facility, which was only concluded earlier this month, didn’t exactly help their cause.

        Given that new facility was an important part of their bid – not just in terms of prestige, but also in terms of needing that facility to construct parts of their car – it hasn’t helped their cause to have construction frozen on that new facility for nearly a year, particularly as they’ve now had to have the facilities redesigned to avoid copyright infringement of DCG’s designs.

        We know that at least part of the new factory will not be complete in 2025, as originally intended, and parts of that new facility are now expected to be at least a year behind schedule. It is perhaps not coincidental that Michael has subsequently pivoted from talking about entering in 2025 to claiming that they were aiming for 2026 instead – it would be somewhat challenging for him to build a car for 2025 with facilities that won’t exist until 2026.

    2. they won’t let Andretti in with the backing of GM

      …eventually, maybe…
      That GM engine that was maybe going to be in the 2025 car, then the 2026 car had slipped to 2028 at latest reports.
      Were GM hoping for another set of engine regs so they can stretch that to 2030?

      1. That’s not correct, Andretti never said they would run the GM engine in 2025 – they were originally booked to be a Renault customer and bring in a new engine in 2028. Of course that depended on whether F! let them in or not; because of the time wasted in this process the Renault deal was voided. If they are allowed to race there are regulations requiring an engine manufacturer to supply them.

        1. And I’ll add that to produce an engine for a single season then immediately another to new regulations would be crazy.

          1. I think before Honda returned, didn’t they wait for an engine regulation change? Not only did this avoid the cost of developing an engine for just one or two years, but also meant they could develop the engine freely without being bound by any testing restrictions, do thousands of miles of track tests because they were not in F1 at that stage. I’ve long thought there is a strong case for splitting engines from cars and saying that each engine supplier must sell engines for a fixed price to any team wanting to use them.

    3. It seems as if, in a single weekend, Vowles has undone all the progress toward the rehabilitation of the Williams brand and the image of him as a masterfully strategic/all bases covered TP. I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. But this has been highly damaging from a reputational perspective.

  4. Free Andretti!

    1. Free Andretti!

      With every box of cornflakes. :)

  5. I think they are rather fixing Sargeant’s car. It’s not like he’s not going to get that repaired chassis as a bonus reward.

  6. Not having a spare monocoque even in Suzuka is even more embarrassing, as I’ve understood will be the case.

  7. There was photographs and techniques called NDT, which is non-destructive testing,

    As opposed to the ‘testing’ that Albon gave it. :)

  8. Ridiculous. This fiasco should have teached them a simple lesson: You have to be in it to win it. And yet they still prioritize some minor updates instead of working flat out on the 3rd chassis. Suzuka is an even more unforgiving circuit than Albert Park that destroyed a huge amount of cars over the years. There’s a low amount of cars on the grid anyway(Liberty’s fault). 20 cars is a bare minimum for a self respecting championship and Williams stupidity might deprive the fans of witnessing even that for a second Grand Prix in a row. As I said when the calamity happened last weekend, there must be a rule from next year that every team must have a spare chassis at every race no exceptions, with heavy fines as punishment for failure to comply. That’ll set their priorities straight and stop them making a mockery of the sport.

    1. A better rule would every team must be capable of fielding two cars for the race. That way, two teams can share a spare car, say. 2023 spec.

      1. I see your point but it wouldn’t work in F1 unfortunately. Even being compelled giving last year’s car to another team might be considered a forced IP infringement. Last year’s car might also be too uncompetitive anyway the rate of progress is relentless. And in a rule change year like in 2026 previous year’s car wouldn’t comply with the regulation. So, I stand by my solution: F1 teams are selfish, they couldn’t care less to take into consideration the common good of F1 or what the fans think. Although this position is ultimately self-defeating in the longer term for obvious reasons, it is what is. Always was and always will be. So the only way to get the teams to work in a way that’ll benefit the sport as a whole is to make it their interest as well. Or, like in this case, the other side of the coin, to make it unworthy to work against it.

    2. The problem is more the very old machines they use to make carbon parts. To make big parts for a chassis it’s a slow proces while keeping the machine used.
      I think they need to buy a second machine to make more parts at the same time. (or upgrade the one they have)
      The little upgrades are probaly little (think biwing) which can be make by simple systems which they can do at the same time.

  9. The engine manufacturers should be required to offer up for free all required (not additional parts/power units) power units for a season to those teams who are no the bottom 50% of the grid. Its embarrassing that teams that like ‘Williams’ will never be allowed to climb back up the order because they are being held hostage by ridiculously priced power units. The profit sharing from Liberty would cover 50% of the cost to the engine makers, who are probably making 500%-1000% on the sale of said power units.

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