‘Off-track activities more important for Williams in 2023’

Total-Motorsport.com take a closer look at what to expect from Williams ahead of the 2023 Formula 1 season

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Williams have finished last in the constructors’ championship in four of the last five seasons and are hoping to move up the grid in Formula 1 2023.

Alex Albon remains at the team for a second campaign and will have a new teammate this year, as Logan Sargeant makes his F1 debut after shining brightly in Formula 2 and Formula 3.

Jost Capito resigned as team principal at the end of 2022, so former Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles will now head up the team.

Total-Motorsport.com journalists Adam Dickinson, Andrew Wright, Ed Spencer and Nigel Chiu take a look at what to expect from Williams in 2023.

Adam Dickinson: Williams struggling for long-term direction

Williams seem to have a star reborn in Albon, last season he was able to get everything out of the FW44 and he’s the biggest reason for optimism in the team.

I’ve not got the same expectations for Sargeant’s debut campaign though. He’s certainly talented but it’s a big ask stepping up to F1 after just one season in F2, and it looked like the pressure got to him somewhat when his seat was on the line in the Abu Dhabi decider in 2022.

Logan Sargeant’s pre-season photoshoot with Williams | Williams F1 team

Beyond that, Vowles was certainly a left-field appointment to the top job and while he was well-respected at Mercedes, I don’t know how well the micro-managing skills of being chief strategist will translate to the oversight needed to be a successful team principal.

Williams have lots of potential but I’m not sure it’ll be realised. The departure of Capito felt impulsive and though the team spent a significant amount of 2022 focusing on this season, Williams just seems to be struggling for long-term direction right now.

Andrew Wright: Williams will have more top 10 finishes in 2023

Even though they finished bottom of the table in 2022, I actually think Williams have a little momentum behind them coming into the new season.

The team will be buoyed by the signing of Vowles and I expect them to improve on the eight points scored in 2022. I hate to say it but getting rid of Nicholas Latifi will also help their cause.

Having said that, they will still be fighting for scraps in 2023 but I think they have a driver line-up well-suited to the task at hand.

Albon has already shown he can execute unconventional strategies to maximise performance and in Sargeant, they will have a hungry rookie desperate to make an impression, which can sometimes be a potent formula. 

It won’t be a massive leap forward but progress has to start somewhere and I can see Williams registering a few more top 10 finishes in 2023.

Ed Spencer: Off-track activities more critical for Williams’ future

2022 was a false dawn for Williams as the team went backwards rather than forwards, with only eight points scored despite going into the season hoping the new regulations would improve fortunes.

This year doesn’t look any better with a debutant team principal Vowles at the helm and a rookie driver Sargeant behind the wheel, potentially making 2023 a season of transition.

Williams does have Albon, who regularly punched above his weight in 2022, dragging every last drop of the FW44, with some heroic drives from lowly grid positions. 

In theory, off-track activities will be more critical to Williams’ future, with a potential factory deal on the table if Dorilton Capital can convince Honda to join forces.

Williams’ Alexander Albon ahead of the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Nigel Chiu: Capito leaving a very bad sign

Unfortunately in sport, someone has to be last and I believe that will be Williams again, even with the added driver quality of Sargeant.

It seems the technical team they have are not quite at the level of the other midfield teams and it was a very bad sign to me that Capito left on what seemed to be his own terms. When someone of that experience and personality walks away from a job, something is not right.

Dorilton Capital have done as well as they can in terms of funding the team but with the likes of Audi and Ford joining the grid, Williams need a partnership too.

On track, Williams did end their development early to focus on this year’s car but we have seen this before over the last six years, so it doesn’t necessarily mean they will move up the grid.

Sargeant is in the right place to learn his craft in F1 and could be a very exciting driver. The pressure is on Albon to lead the team and not be beaten by a rookie.

Nigel Chiu
Nigel Chiuhttps://total-motorsport.com/author/nigel-chiu/
Nigel Chiu is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who worked at Total-Motorsport for 18 months until May 2023. He has been following F1 since 2007 and hasn’t missed a Grand Prix weekend since. Nigel’s worked with several motorsport websites, plus Eurosport and subsequently went on to work with Sky Sports F1 where he travels to multiple F1 races each season.
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