Williams SHOCK decision over 2024 car

Lewis Hamilton has been complaining that the fans of Formula One should not have to suffer the dominance of the sport by one team year after year. “If we continue like this, maybe Ferrari will dominate in the next few years, or maybe McLaren will, or maybe Mercedes will get back in front, but I think this is not the best thing for the fans,” Hamilton complained Channel 4.

“We shouldn’t have the chance to dominate for a large number of years, the battle for the top positions should be closer,” continued the seven times world champion. “Unfortunately, however, Red Bull could seriously dominate even in the next three seasons.”



Hamilton “short memory”

Of course Lewis has a short memory, given since the introduction of the new V6 hybrid power units. he won six titles in seven years, while Rosberg claimed another and the team won an unprecedented eight consecutive constructors’ championships.

Hamilton has previously argued at the Austrian Grand Prix the FIA should prevent teams from beginning their next season’s car before a given date. He bemoaned the fact Red Bull were so far ahead this year that in July they were already working on their 2024 project.

Verstappen was having none of it: “We weren’t talking about that when he was winning his Championships, right? So I don’t think we should now,” he suggested to Sky F1.

“That’s how Formula 1 works,” added the world champion dismissing Hamilton’s complaints.

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Williams ‘risk it all’

Yet now it appears a Formula One team began their 2024 car development way earlier than Red Bull as Alex Albon reveals in a shock revelation from the Williams F1 team.

Williams are one of Formula One’s most historic competitors and despite just two wins since 2004 they still rank well in a number of the sport’s records. The Grove based outfit has longevity on its side having started 792 Grand Prix and is just third behind Ferrari and McLaren in this statistic.

Mercedes don’t even make the top ten and Red Bull tenth with 359 race starts. Red Bull has a best record of 33 1-2 finishes with Red Bull lagging behind on 27 despite having one of the most dominant cars this year F1 has ever seen.

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Williams F1 fresh hope

The team now managed by ex-Mercedes James Vowles has claimed 313 podiums again ahead of Mercedes (286) and Red Bull (253).

Yet for almost two decades the Williams team has been an also ran in Formula One and according to Vowles is using technology and equipment around 20 years older than he was used to at Mercedes.

However, in ex-Red Bull driver Alex Albon the team have a driver capable of maximising the capabilities of their car. Albon has scored all 11 points for them this season and they stand P7 in the constructors’ championship.

Despite their lack of technology, Williams decision to recruit a Formula One expert in Vowles appears to be one others could learn from. The recent carnage at Alpine is indubitably due to the lack of top level experience in the sport with the team being overseen by Laurent Rossi and now Bruno Famini.

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Just 1 upgrade this season

Alex Albon now reveals that Williams have only brought one real upgrade to their car this year and it was at the Canadian Grand Prix, where the Thai-British driver drove superbly to claim 7th at the chequered flag.

Yet the impact of Vowles has been hidden to some extent and Albon  is positive a decision he made almost as soon as demoing team principal will see Williams rocket up the championship table next season.

“I have started working on next year’s car since April in the simulator and making sure we are changing the car characteristics to try and mitigate some of these constant balance issues we’ve been having for the last four or five years – that’s been a big focus for next year,” says Albon.

By way of contrast some of the big gains by the likes of McLaren have not addressed the ‘driveability’ complaints of their drivers but have rather just increased the downforce they have available.

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McLaren not improved car drivability

“I think if you listen to Lando [Norris] and Oscar [Piastri’s] comments, they’re not saying that the car itself has improved in terms of their balance,” claimed Albon.

“They just say that there’s a bit more downforce on the car.

“They’ve made a huge step in that sense but not in the way the car drives.”

Never in recent memory has a Formula One team switched its focus to the following year but Vowles was aware that Williams must address the fundamental weakness in their package rather than tinker with multiple upgrades to improve this season’s performance.

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Williams invest time in better balance

“It shows the ambition of the team,” added Alex.

“It shows where we think we need to improve and just doing upgrades through the year is not really going to get us to keep working towards that to get there.”

Aston Martin finished in the constructors championship where Williams now find themselves, yet the remarkable turnaround from last years car to this is no great mystery.

The team used the newly recruited skills of Dan Fallows (ex-Red Bull no.2 to Newey) to good effect as he worked for the year on the 2023 car rather than trying to slowly fix what was presented to him.

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Aston Martin F1 showed the way

Of course the Silverstone team came out of the blocks in Stella fashion this year with Fernando Alonso leading the charge to chase down the Red Bull cars.

“I think Aston Martin is a great example of designating time and focus and giving yourself a bit more of a buffer to improve your car and think more long term,” Albon continued.

The Williams upgrade was almost complete in terms of design before the 2023 season began which allowed Vowles to switch the focus 12 months ahead.

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Smaller F1 teams one big upgrade

“This upgrade package we had on the car for Canada was already very close, by February, it was all in its window and being designed and, in some parts, being made,” confirmed the Thai-British driver.

“So the focus can go into next year. We don’t have many upgrades coming this year. In fact, Canada was really our major one.

“So when you do it like that, you free up a lot more time to focus on next year’s car and we don’t want to be finishing eighth in the Constructors’, we want to be finishing fifth, fourth, and that takes a big leap forward.”

While Ferrari and Mercedes have brought a number of upgrades to their cars this year, it seems the team’s further down the grid concentrate more on one big effort as Albon concludes.

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Vowles experience will shine through

“I don’t think McLaren brought an upgrade to their car from pre-Silverstone. They have just come in and hit the ground running.

“I find that quite interesting. It seems like the top teams are still doing micro-updates and the midfield teams are just putting in these big ones.

“A lot of that is due to the cost cap, but also, at least for the midfield teams, it seems more efficient to do it that way than the other way.”

Clearly having a team manager who has top level experience is benefitting the Williams team now and provides for an exciting prospect next season. Meanwhile the chaos at Alpine who have dropped from 4th to 6th in a year will not be solved by the present policy of bringing in non-F1 experience into their critical positions.

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