In the wake of the opening race of the season, teams throughout the paddock are taking stock – and delving into the data earned from the first real test of the next generation of cars.
Join us as we take a dive into what we at Williams Racing learned in Bahrain.
Alex has slotted right in
I think we can all agree that Alex Albon’s performance over the weekend made it look like he’d been with the team throughout his career.
But, of course, this was his Williams debut and first F1 race in over a year. His ability to jump straight into the FW44 and look right at home was something that Dave Robson mentioned after the Grand Prix.
“Alex was calm and collected throughout the race and he has had an excellent start to his Williams career,” said our Head of Vehicle Performance.
“Qualifying and racing with a new team is never straightforward as there are so many procedures to learn and relationships to form.
“However, after solid simulator and winter testing programmes, he was able to acquit himself very well all weekend.”
The Thai driver will be straight back to it this weekend, as he prepares to tackle the Jeddah Corniche Circuit for the very first time.
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Something everyone associated with Formula One was keeping a keen eye upon this weekend was whether the changes made to encourage closer racing would prove effective.
It has to be said, the early signs look promising. There were battles up and down the order throughout the race, and our pair were locked into some pretty engaging duels themselves.
Alex enjoyed a good wheel-to-wheel encounter with both Valtteri Bottas and Lando Norris, while Nicky battled with Daniel Ricciardo throughout the race.
Of course, one Grand Prix is never going to be definitive and the upcoming street circuits in Jeddah and Melbourne may still prove limiting in the overtaking stakes.
A better understanding of new tyres
Sunday was the first race outing for Pirelli’s new 18-inch low-profile tyres, giving the team valuable data to take away and analyse.
Bahrain is traditionally a circuit that is hard on tyres, so may not be the fairest of tests. But there is a consensus that they may be more fragile than initially thought.
The late Safety Car made it a three-stop race for both Nicky and Alex, coming in to change onto used soft tyres for the closing stages.
Work to be done
We’re just one race into a 23 race season, but we know that there is room for improvement with our 2022 challenger.
Rest assured, the team are working hard behind the scenes – both in the garage and back at Grove.
There is no such thing as a quick fix in Formula 1, as Nicky suggested post-race.
“Jeddah will be a different kind of track and one that should suit us a bit better, but we’re still going to be going there with a similar package,” he said.
“I’m sure we’ll be able to optimise it more, knowing what we’ve learned here, but I suspect it will still be tough.”
Teamwork makes the dream work
The team worked tirelessly across the weekend to wring out any extra time that could be found – from practice on Friday into Sunday’s race.
Feedback from our drivers suggests there’s definitely more to come from this car, as Jost Capito, CEO and Team Principal, explained.
“They say we can race the car, so we believe we have a good base car to develop throughout the season, one we can get even better,” he said.
“Overall, we are quite OK with this weekend and now we are looking forward to moving straight to Saudi Arabia and the race in Jeddah next week.”