Formula One

F1 2023 Williams mid-season analysis – Exceeding expectations

The F1 2023 Williams Mid-Season Analysis reveals the team's progress
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While the battles further up have attracted a lot of attention, there is a fight between four teams at the bottom of the field that is very intriguing. Williams is surprisingly topping the battle, but there is a lot left to be decided.

Best result since 2017

Despite finishing last in the constructors’ championship last year, that was considered a good step for Williams, as the team was previously lacking the pace to score points in a normal, dry race. Its haul of eight points though was far away from the teams in front and the most important goal for this season was to close it.

Progress achieved

It is undeniable that this season has already been a success for the historical team. With James Vowles as its new team principal, Williams has excelled and capitalised on most of the available opportunities to score points. The exception to this is the Belgian Grand Prix, where the team got the strategy all wrong and dropped outside the top ten.

With its low-drag design working exceptionally in circuits with long straights, Alexander Albon produced one of the best performances of the season in the Canadian Grand Prix. Taking advantage of a bold one-stop strategy, the Thai driver finished seventh, the team’s best dry-race result since 2017. He followed it up with another points finish two races later, in Silverstone.

Those two results, in addition to another point at the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix, put Williams on top of the fight for seventh. They are level with Haas on eleven points, while Alfa Romeo has scored nine and Alpha Tauri sits on three.

Perhaps even more significantly, the upgrade that Albon received ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix and Sargeant got two races later as well, made the car all around better. That was best demonstrated in the high-downforce layout of the Hungaroring, where Albon finished eleventh. Therefore, it seems as though Williams is best placed among the bottom four teams heading into the summer break.

Albon performing brilliantly

Alexander Albon has been the driver who has made most of the impact so far this season. He has certainly been one of the best drivers in the grid this season, his only mishap coming in the Australian Grand Prix, where he crashed early on. With a bit more luck, he would have been able to score on a few more occasions, since six teams are consistently having a faster car, so it takes a lot to make it to the points.

On the other hand, Logan Sargeant would have certainly hoped for a better rookie season. He was clearly off his teammate’s pace in the opening few rounds. His worst weekend of the year came in Baku, where a crash during Sprint qualifying forced him to miss that race, which seemed to knock his confidence for the next few events. He has shown signs of recovery since, with a best finish of eleventh at Silverstone.

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A one-man show

Albon’s advantage is very clear, no matter what kind of metric we use to see how they compare. The most obvious one, of course, are the standings. Albon has scored eleven points and lies thirteenth in the championship, while Sargeant has not scored yet and is nineteenth in the standings, only ahead of Nyck de Vries and Daniel Ricciardo.

The only driver to have swept his teammate in the twelve qualifying sessions that have been held so far is Albon, as the score between them is 12-0. Adding the sprints into consideration as well, the score goes up to 15-0. The situation is not different in the races, where the rookie has lost out in all ten Grands Prix they have both finished.

Can Williams finish seventh?

There is plenty of racing yet to come in 2023, so a lot to be decided. With Red Bull, Mercedes, Aston Martin, McLaren and Alpine usually occupying the points scoring positions, it could all come down to one lucky result that decides who wins the important fight for seventh. Of course, it’s not all about pride, as there is a large amount of prize money for the teams to chase.

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Sargeant driving to survive

While it is very understandable that Logan Sargeant might need a bit of time to get settled in, considering he is a rookie, more was expected of the American. The fact he is yet to beat his teammate in an official session certainly does not bode well for the rookie, who has found his name in the rumour mill regarding next season.

Therefore, it is very important for him to up his game in the remaining ten rounds. Either a good performance against Albon will help, or even a points finish at one of the tracks that will suit Williams in the rest of this season.

A few names have been mentioned as potential replacements, the most prominent among those being Mick Schumacher, who has is serving as the test driver for Mercedes since Haas let him go at the end of last season. Mercedes of course supply Williams with engines and used that partnership to place George Russell in the team from Grove a few years prior.

The fight for seventh

As always in a close fight between four teams, a lot can decide who comes out on top. But at the moment, Williams looks best placed. With its very competitive low-drag design able to even challenge a few of the teams higher up the pecking order, at least one more points scoring opportunity must be the goal.

The most probable circuits for that to be achieved are Monza, Interlagos, Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, all of which seem like very beneficial layouts for the Williams FW45, considering that all feature substantially long straights. But other circuits could present an opportunity too, especially if changeable weather conditions come into play.

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