Williams confident testing issues “solved” ahead of Bahrain GP

28 Feb, 2024

Alexander Albon began his impressive 2023 campaign with points in Sakhir after qualifying P15. The Thai played in defence for most of the race. He held off Yuki Tsunoda’s less efficient AlphaTauri for much of the Bahrain GP.

The updates brought to Canada gave an edge to the Grove team’s challenger. They provided Albon and Sargeant with more downforce, allowing Williams to finish in 7th place.

This year, the team led by James Vowles completed 140 laps less than last pre-season.

Still, there is optimism for the 2024 project. Work on the FW46 began much earlier (we are talking about March 2023) compared to the usual timing.

This early start means Williams does not have the new Mercedes suspension. Vowles instead opted to push ahead with updates, as opposed to waiting for a new part.

Williams insists the issues from testing are not too worrying

Alexander Albon finished the final day with a time of 1.30.984. In total, this lap was about bout a second slower than Carlos Sainz’s best time.

However, after completing 121 laps in total, the final day of Bahrain testing was the team’s best.

The former Red Bull driver commented on the first three days of the season as follows:

“The test wasn’t the easiest, but we made progress over the three days. There is still work to do to maximise the car we have.

“These few days between the test and the race have been spent understanding the package and, above all, the areas we need to work on.”

Logan Sargeant echoed similar comments to his teammate:

“As a team, we made the most of the three days, making progress in the right direction.

“We will try to take advantage of what we learned during the tests and get the car into a good window for qualifying.”

Williams

More curious was the interview with the Head of Vehicle Performance, in charge of performance analysis. Dave Robson is the man responsible for the general correlation of vehicle models, tyres and Power Units.

“The pre-season tests were not very smooth, but we managed to solve the problems we had identified. On the last day, the machine was working well,” explained the Oxford University graduate.

“Despite the limited mileage on the first day, we managed to collect a lot of data and have spent the last few days analyzing it.

“Understanding the correlation with simulations and evolving the construction and car set-up to maximise performance.

Robson also made clear the drivers are quite satisfied with their running so far. This is despite reliability issues and relatively limited track time.

“Both (the drivers) have significantly developed their understanding of the FW46.

“Although there is still a lot to do, they are in a good position to refine their setups and get more out of the car.

Lastly, Robson spoke about Williams’ program for the first sessions of the season, underlining the peculiarity of Free Practice 1, which will be run under sunlight:

“FP1 will be relatively hot and not very representative of qualifying and race conditions.

“Therefore, we will look to complete some slightly different tests in FP1 and return to the set-up we used in testing for the cooler conditions of FP2.”

One of the fundamental themes of this weekend is the management of the rear tyres in the race. Engineers still have to perfect this area on the FW46’s current configuration:

“The tyres for this event are the hardest offered by Pirelli and will be suitable for the abrasive surface of the Sakhir runway.

“As always, tyre management will be crucial in the race, and this is an aspect we will refine over the course of the weekend.

Author: Andrea Vergani

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

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