Daniel Ricciardo and Alexander Albon crash, Suzuka, 2024

Three crashes in two races taking an “enormous” toll on Williams – Vowles

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by

The latest crash suffered by a Williams driver will delay their upgrade programme later in the season.

Team principal James Vowles admitted that was an inevitable consequence of Alexander Albon’s first-lap crash with Daniel Ricciardo in yesterday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

“The last two weeks have been tough,” Vowles told the official F1 channel. “I think, take any team, to have three major accidents where you pretty much take out all the equipment on the car is enormous.

“Taking that across the season, you can deal with it. Taking it across just a few races, it’s difficult and the impact of it will be what you expect.

“We’re making spares as quickly as possible in the background but ultimately performance will have an impact on that. We can’t bring as many updates. The updates that were on the car, unfortunately, are broken. So we’ve got to build those stocks back up and get going again.”

Logan Sargeant had to revert to Williams’ previous specification aerodynamics after crashing his car during first practice on Friday. He sat out the previous race in Australia after Albon crashed at the beginning of the weekend, leaving the team with a single useable car.

But Vowles is confident Williams can rebound from its latest setback in time for the Chinese Grand Prix next week. “One of the huge strengths of this organisation is resilience,” he said. “It’s been through so much across the last ten years. We’re going to pick ourselves up and get going again.”

He was also pleased by Sargeant’s performance in yesterday’s race, before he lost a significant amount of time when he spun off at Degner 2 on lap 41.

“What I’m encouraged by is Logan in that race was fighting for it against other competitors around him, same age tyres, and overtaking them,” said Vowles. “That just gives me encouragement that the race package we have isn’t bad.

“We weren’t there in Melbourne, but here we were there or thereabouts and it’s incredibly tight all the way from basically [RB] from us to Alpine. There’s nothing between those teams. The encouragement I take is that we’re going to pick ourselves back up, come to China and come back swinging.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2024 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all 2024 Japanese Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

53 comments on “Three crashes in two races taking an “enormous” toll on Williams – Vowles”

  1. I heard that chassis is also broken as they send it back to England for repair…

  2. The true legacy of Claire Williams and her leadership. Do you know that as of 2019 their computers were running on Windows XP, the system which had its End of Support 10 years earlier? Because why would you invest in the infrastructure (“Fundamentally, we’re in a situation where a lot of facilities were almost preserved from where they were 20 years ago. Composites is behind what I knew when I first joined the sport with a different team 20 years ago…” – James Vowles), when you can invest in… Have a guess :)

    1. Another reason there should basically be no capex limits for the lower teams (at least for at least a couple more seasons), especially when you consider the big teams splurged on infrastructure in the years between the cap being passed and when it came into effect.

    2. Coventry Climax
      8th April 2024, 14:56

      It’s always Claire Williams who gets the blame and I don’t think that’s even remotely fair or based on truth.
      She was the arms, legs and mouth for Frank Williams for most of the time, and when she finally did get to say her say, she had inherited an empty shell of a company.

      1. Claire Williams effectively took over from Frank Williams in early 2013, and the team was indeed pretty bad already. Frank had never really managed to move on from the BMW-split. To what extent Claire was merely a figurehead is, I suppose, unknowable. But it can’t work both ways: she was offered – and accepted – an OBE already in 2016 for her F1 work. If you take the credit, expect some of the blame.

        Williams got a huge boost with the Mercedes V6, with two 3rd places in the WCC in 2014 and 2015 (where yes, they outscored Red Bull – and not by a small margin either). That they were wholly unable to capitalize on that is definitely something for which Claire Williams has to take some of the blame, if for no other reason than that she was, at least in name, leading the company.

        They went from 3rd with Bottas and Massa to 10th with Stroll and Sirotkin in just three years!

        1. that 2018 car was supposed to be a leap forward and it backfired immensely.

          Had they just worked on a development of the very basic ’17 car, it would likely be more competitive than that thing.

    3. Because why would you invest in the infrastructure when you can invest in… Have a guess

      Why be so cryptic? Why not tell us what you think they were wrongly investing in?

      I’m not sure Wlliams had the money to invest in anything. They had problems for years not being able to get big sponsors, so they couldn’t invest in all the new facilities and infrastructure. BMW wanted to buy the team back in 2008-ish, but Frank Williams was so dismissive of them that they decided to sponsor Sauber instead, and Williams not only lost the BMW drivetrain and ended up with a Cosworth engine, they also lost the BMW money. Clare WIlliams didn’t take the reins until about 2013, and she brought some business sense to the team, but even now, they truggle to find any sort of big name sponsors or backing.

    4. williams had to leave f1 because the guy who convinced williams the new power unit formula was right, divested, pulled his stake, and party mode from the williams garage. because after toto left the have been at the back of the grid, which is where all customers are in f1, who dont have the political will to change the rules.

    5. Williams still using Windows XP that’s crazy if true as it cannot be updated nowadays.

      I remember a Youtuber playing a game, Motorsport Manager once and a dilemma came up to update 
      the I.T situation at his factory for 400k, he said “Nah I’m not doing that just use Windows 95 and you’ll be fine!”

      It was the way he said it that created a real lol moment, why ‘am I bothering to mention this?
      The Windows XP situation made me think of it and some thing I bet was said at the time at Williams…..

      Surly any team principal get details of the right people to order new I.T equipment and technology and work out a deal to suit
      both parties?  

      1. If you are using a computer to play games or edit videos or surf the net, having an up to date version of Windows is pretty essential. If you are using a computer to control a piece of machinery such as a computerised cutter using a specialist piece of software, it doesn’t need to be updated every month for all the latest bells and whistles that MS wants to foist on you and it probably isn’t connected to the outside world in any way. The only thing it ever does is boot up in the morning when you power it on, read in the CAD file, cut out the right shapes from a sheet of material, beep when it needs reloading. You’d be surprised how many bits of kit run really outdated versions of software and it matters not one jot.

        1. Totally agree. Us and many many of our machine shop contemporaries run older software. We run Win7 with 15 year old CADCAM and Solid Modeling software; offline.

          It is not so much a matter of the operating system but how expensive the new subscription software we need, is.

          Not just the upfront cost of a software seat but the ongoing “maintenance” costs you must pay for or, if in default, find your software no longer functioning. Software that can cost up to US$8000 per seat and US$1500 to US$2000 per year annual “maintenance” costs.

          Modern engineering software has to be online to function (Yes AutoCad can be offline for a week but you must register online again for the software to keep working). Think MS Office 365 but on steroids. Your files are encoded with your MetaData and this is reported back to the software HQ for them to track your work.

          Older software works and every Win10/11 upgrade does not bust our DNC software (allows computer to talk to CNC machine via RS232 cable).

          The other consideration is updating your post processor files (convert software toolpath geometry to machine readable NC files) every update in operating system or engineering software.

      2. This means that Williams didn’t upgrade any machines for a long time which if we see the chassis problem is logical as you can work as fast as you machines can produce.

        As long as their network isn’t connected to the internet you can still work with it. (But performance wise they are hugely behind as computer simulation work beter with the fastest CPU’s)

  3. Coventry Climax
    8th April 2024, 9:55

    If this has to come out of their budget, then apart from the time lost, it also affects the money they can effectively spend on development. And that then is a major drawback and flaw in the budget cap rules.

    (Nice sentence, by the way, for the increasing number of people seemingly having trouble with the difference between affect and effect ;-) )

    1. And that then is a major drawback and flaw in the budget cap rules.

      It’s not a flaw – it’s a feature. Note the word “budget.”

      1. Coventry Climax
        8th April 2024, 20:44

        You partake in a 500m running championship, over 10 rounds. You’re give 20 pair of shoes to use, and that’s the limit as per rules. At the first event, someone steals 19 pair from you, never to be found again.
        Now you say you’d continue barefoot, events, trainings and the lot, and not complain there should be somekind of provision for such circumstances?
        Get real.

        1. Nothing has been ‘stolen’ from Williams. The damage they’ve suffered is a direct result of their own actions and general racing circumstances. It is no-one’s ‘fault’ but their own, as a racing team participating in a racing series. This is exactly what they have to budget for – and all of the teams are in the same position in this regard..
          Had Williams suffered losses entirely beyond their control, or the control of anyone else associated with F1, they (the teams/FOM/FIA) may collectively allow some leeway if possible within their rules and contracts.

          Further to that, the rules do allow for teams to use additional funds beyond their budget cap allowance – but they will be at risk of a penalty. The rules are clear for everyone long before the competition begins – as the teams themselves took part in creating them.
          Compounding Williams’ dilemma is the lack of further funds to draw from, however.

          In the case of Ferrari’s Vegas water valve cover incident, or Williams’ own Baku incident from 2019 – they were entirely eligible for compensation by the event promoter as it was the track itself causing the damage. The damage in those circumstances didn’t come from their own drivers’ actions…

          1. Coventry Climax
            9th April 2024, 11:36

            And noone said anything ‘has been stolen’ from Williams, that’s what you choose to read in the simple example I used to try and explain something to you.
            Pointess exercise, I know, my bad, won’t happen again. Bye now.

        2. I don’t even think he talks about the budget, probably about the amount of time lost that the staff could spend elsewhere.

          All teams budget for crashes. It’s certainly better not to have them than have them but it’s not like other have not set aside the founds for this.

          What you are describing has nothing to do with the normal event of a crash in race, the right analogy would be if a truck with the cars crashed or caught on fire destroying the cars. In that case I think some leeway would be made in the budget.

      2. Coventry Climax
        8th April 2024, 20:47

        PS: Note they can not use the designated budget through circumstances not their fault.

        1. I said the same thing and agree. Not sure how just because some teams allow extra budget in case of disastrously bad luck with crashes or even if it’s not bad luck changes the fact that I doubt anyone wanted to see teams not be able to develop or bring updates because there was a loose drain cover or their drivers binned it.

          PS: Even as someone who worked as a professional copywriter and editor for major publications, I accidentally screwed up effect/affect once. AP Styleguard should prevent it from reaching actual publication for any serious writer though.

          1. disastrously bad luck with crashes

            Crashes are rarely ‘bad luck’ – they almost always involve poor decision making/excessive risk-taking.
            Regardless, it is a fundamental part of the nature of motorsport.

            What you are suggesting is that there should be more exemptions to the budget cap. But if that were the case, all the other teams would take advantage of that too, and the cap would be completely ineffective.
            Remember always that the teams in F1 have no intention of doing what is right – only what they can get away with.

            The drain cover incidents were wholly financially compensated for, as they weren’t the fault of the competitors simply engaging in competition and/or taking too much risk of their own accord.
            If a team’s drivers are crashing too often, then that’s where the team needs to look for improvements.

          2. That’s why I said whether it’s bad luck or not. A driver making a mistake isnt bad luck. As I understand it, Ferrari were never given a break under the budget cap for that damage (I.E., it went toward their total spending).

            I understand a lot of slippery slope arguments about budget cap adjustments. I just don’t see a realistic way in which teams are going to exploit this rule. Even if they were successfully able to stage a crash to demolish a part beyond repair, I am not sure how that would help them gain any advantage as long as the rules stated it could only be replaced by the same exact part as in they couldn’t replace anything with an updated or reverted spec and still get an exemption. And if a team is so under the cap that it doesn’t help them, well that changes exactly nothing either.

  4. Both drivers are way too erratic..
    Wouldn’t be surprised to see a totally new lineup next season.

    1. What an incredibly silly take.
      You can hardly bemoan Albon for what happened in Japan – unless you want a driver who doesn’t push reasonably for position in an attempt to get points?

      Albon was the exact opposite of erratic last year, with the coincidental exception of Australia.
      One notable mistake per year isn’t quite the definition of erratic, lmao!

    2. Do you even watch F1? Albon is widely regarded as a very safe pair of hands, a fair racer, and was taken out by ricciardo in Japan through no fault of his own. Logan on the other hand is, if anything, too conservative. He just makes silly mistakes and errors of judgement because he is in over his head.

      1. There is NO way he is considered a safe pair of hands.
        You just made that up.

        1. He’s considered a points scoring machine at least.

        2. I think he was since after last year’s Australia GP he never put a foot wrong, but now people may be reconsidering. I think it was silly of Williams to ditch a platform that gave them a big advantage at certain types of tracks and seemingly at some where it shouldn’t have. That type of odd advantage is just the type of thing that helps a non-top 5 team outscore the other bottom 5. A distinct advantage at fast circuits rather than being evenly mediocre at all tracks.

  5. I’ve heard a rumor that they have even run out of Duct Tape.. imagine if Logan had managed to put it in the wall again, instead of the kitty litter. If I remember correctly teams aren’t allowed to miss a race and if they do so they will be expelled from the championship (I vaguely remember teams with financial problems in the 90’s would always scramble to just make it to a race in order to comply with that rule)..

    1. Last in-season withdrawal is super Aguri 2006 if I correctly remember.

      Back to Williams, they just lost 2 million euros in 4 races for not getting a single point.

      1. Coventry Climax
        8th April 2024, 14:48

        Off topic, but:
        x million Dollar, Pound, Zloty, Yen, Ruble and Euro, not Euros.

        1. Of those, only ‘Yen’ has no (s)-based plural.
          Euros is correct, in exactly the same way dollars and pounds are.

    2. Even if this rule is still on the books, there is no way this would be enforced. It was never a mandatory punishment. It just meant a team could be excluded. It’s not like if Ferrari for some reason missed a race they’d be kicked out of the championship.

      1. Jonathan Parkin
        8th April 2024, 15:19

        Which does bring up an interesting point. What happens if both cars in one team catch fire on the grid like Stewart in Australia 1999. Because there are no spare cars anymore, the team wouldn’t be on the grid for the start that became the race, thus they would both be a dns, and the team would therefore (technically) miss a race.

      2. At one point around 10 years ago, the rule was that missing 3 races would forfeit next year’s place on the F1 grid unless the FIA liked the reason it was done. I’m not sure if this is still the case. The FIA accepted force majeure as a reason for missing a race or any part of a race weekend, but it was always for the FIA to decide whether the force majeure was acceptable. This means teams do not pre-emptively skipping rounds unless there was no other choice.

        However, missing any race weekends entirely wither either car meant that TV monies for that race would be forfeited for the entire team (and FOM, as it was then, did not accept any excuses whatsoever. Liberty may differ). The position on partial weekends (e.g. putting both cars on track at some point in the weekend but not attempting qualifying) was never entirely clear, but I believe that it was at least possible to negotiate in that instance. Also, if a team at least qualified, it would get some sort of payment, even if the start could not be taken.

    3. Pacific, I haven’t checked the regs lately, but I think they are allowed to miss up to three races though there are supposed to be reasonable reasons for this, such as all their gear being impounded by customs, or cars crashing in practice and being unable to start the race. And I think that rather than it being a straight out exclusion, it is more a case of financial penalties, they start losing their share of TV revenue etc.

    4. I have no idea what the rules are today and I think the examples of the past (Lola / HRT / USF1 / Arrows many others) are all probably quite redundant, as rules were seemingly applied as necessary at the time.

      If a team runs wet tyres in a dry practice session to save money, then they’re already halfway to the vets, and won’t make it if they don’t make it within 107% anyway. At which point creditors and everyone else brings a thousand cuts to the project.

      But if Williams kept running one car? I don’t know, ‘bringing the sport into disrepute’? It’d take a bit of time, goodwill and mitigation would prevail for a race or two.

      Obviously homogation and transport fees brought about the end of many. Running one car after the early 90s is seemingly okay with a good reason.

      But I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t a few from the past who wouldn’t bemoan that they couldn’t do that for a bit when they were struggling with having enough to make two cars.

      1. *running one car before the early 90s was okay and legal (92?)

      2. If a team runs wet tyres in a dry practice session to save money, then they’re already halfway to the vets

        Actually, teams have a fixed allocation of tyres, so it wouldn’t be a money-saving option.

      3. @bernasaurus My understanding is that if a team deliberately runs only one car and has no compelling reason to do so, it’s treated as if it hadn’t turned up at all.

        If the team is compelled, the FIA would reluctantly agree a temporary loss of the car, but Liberty would certainly not pay TV monies for the missing car.

  6. To me, one area of the budget cap that should definitely be changed is the replacement of non-repairable parts counting toward the cap. There is no way that helps keep costs down let alone helps the field come together.

    Another reason this is so ridiculous is that means the Williams drivers are going to have be exceedingly careful for basically the rest of the season.

    1. Another reason this is so ridiculous is that means the Williams drivers are going to have be exceedingly careful for basically the rest of the season.

      Do you think Williams are alone in having to manage this particular kind of risk?
      The budget cap is working perfectly in this instance – the team is sacrificing one thing for another, exactly as intended. And thanks to that budget cap, they aren’t losing as much (in relative terms) as they would without the budget cap, seeing as they are a relatively ‘poor’ team compared to the others.

      The budget cap needs fewer exclusions – not more. None would be best.

    2. Nick, in this case, I’m not sure the budget cap is the culprit. I don’t think Williams has enough sponsorship to worry about breaking the budget cap.

    3. There is no way that helps keep costs down let alone helps the field come together.

      It does, because the cap can’t be broken. Every team needs to budget (as a verb) for these eventualities. If a team assumes they can run the entire season without incurring some repair costs that’s a failure on their part. It is, unfortunately, something that affects all F1 teams; Mercedes for example caused quite a lot of Red Bull damage in 2021.

      But as noted, it’s doubtful that Williams is spending anywhere close to the cap. Given their lack of sponsors, and their owners, they seem to be subsisting on the FOM payout mostly, and for a back of the field team that’s not going to be a straight 10% cut of the 1.2 billion USD, but less.

      1. I wonder if Logan is paying for his own repair bills? It wouldn’t be unusual for a paying driver.
        My impression is that Logan can do alright for 60 to 80% of the race but then has a “vauge out”, maybe long covid, and then makes a silly mistake? Anyway, why else would a poor team keep a costly driver unless he is paying for his own repairs?

        @Nick RE: The replacement of non repairable parts, I think if this was a rule I’d be expecting to see a huge rise in the number of accidents that Alonso had as he “accidentally damaged” parts of his car that could be replaced outside the budget cap. It would be nigh on impossible for the FIA to know the full engineering in every part and then rule if the replacement was 100% the same as the damaged part. In theory a good idea but in practice it would be a nightmare to govern.

        1. I considered the possibility of intentional damage. I think it would be too obvious. And I meant that FIA would have to immediately see damaged parts after the race and declare them unrepairable. And that they couldn’t be replaced by an updated part. Only like for like.

          Re: “s” And, yes, I realize other teams have to deal with this. I just think the budget cap was meant to prevent rich teams from spending massive amounts on development to make it impossible for other teams to compete. Not punish teams for accidents that may not have been their fault at all (see Sainz in Vegas) or whenever Ocon or Gasly decide to run into you.

          Re: Alan D / Michael: well, they did lobby for an expanded cap for infrastructure which caused RB to complain it was unfair cause they couldn’t afford to spend extra on infrastructure. So, not sure they’re not near or so far away from the cap.

      2. for a back of the field team that’s not going to be a straight 10% cut of the 1.2 billion USD, but less

        I think that is a problem with F1. I really feel each team should get the same cut of the pot. It isn’t as if anyone can just turn up and enter a team. It is a closed club, and the back markers are just as importnat as the Ferraris and Mercs in making it an event. Remember that indy race where just six cars competed? that was gripping,… not.

        1. That’d open a can of worms with Haas’ behavior. I’d maybe support something like this if it required teams to spend the complete maximum allowed under the cap to be eligible for an even or more equitable part of the revenue.

  7. Lewisham Milton
    8th April 2024, 21:27

    They haven’t had any resilience since Massa stopped.

  8. Williams are very far behind the eight ball and the fact that they are on the fringe of scoring points each week is a testament to the people who work there, in what must be, a very small tight knit group of extremely hard working people. The problem is, the hard work may not all be filtered into the running and improvement of the car, it may be keeping the operation afloat, and because of that, they will never be able to move forward, in fact, they may struggle to hold their current position.

    1. Agreed. People were so high on them last year. Now, people cannot fulfill their Williams’ bashing quota.

  9. From Williams site

    the sale to Dorilton Capital, which delivers a great outcome for shareholders and secures the long term future of the Company.”


    we are the ideal partner for the company due to our flexible and patient investment style, which will allow the team to focus on its objective of returning to the front of the grid


    We look forward to working with the Williams team in carrying out a detailed review of the business to determine in which areas new investment should be directed. We also recognise the world class facilities at Grove and confirm that there are no plans to relocate.”We look forward to working with the Williams team in carrying out a detailed review of the business to determine in which areas new investment should be directed. We also recognise the world class facilities at Grove and confirm that there are no plans to relocate.”

    So what happened,?

Comments are closed.