Williams not the only team without spare chassis as Toto Wolff makes shock double reveal

Jamie Woodhouse
Toto Wolff, Mercedes, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Mercedes' Toto Wolff.

The lack of a spare chassis for Williams caused quite the drama in Australia, though they are not alone in waiting for one as Formula 1 arrives at Round 4 in Japan.

Alex Albon’s heavy shunt in FP1 at the Australian Grand Prix saw Williams team-mate Logan Sargeant sidelined for the rest of the race weekend, as with Albon’s chassis written-off, he was given Sargeant’s car due to Williams not having a spare chassis ready at that point in the season.

Toto Wolff reveals common no spare chassis theme at Williams

Williams suffered another chassis scare when Sargeant crashed out in FP1 at the Japanese GP, though his chassis survived to ensure that both he and Albon can continue in the race weekend.

The lack of a spare has caused Williams to take some criticism, former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan calling the situation “unacceptable” in a rather scathing rant, though it turns out they are not the only team competing with that risk of not having a third chassis to fall back on. Alpine are doing the same.

When asked in a press conference whether Alpine has a spare chassis with them in Suzuka, team boss Bruno Famin replied: “From the next race.”

Pressed to confirm that this therefore means Alpine do not have one in Suzuka, Famin responded: “No.”

The question was also asked to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who began his Formula 1 journey as an investor in the Williams team.

Wolff confirmed that during his time at Mercedes – which includes the team winning eight Constructors’ Championship titles in a row between 2014-21 – there has been occasions where they have not started a season with a spare chassis.

That was a shock reveal in its own right, but arguably even more surprisingly, he revealed that Williams often went most of the season without a spare chassis while he was there.

Wolff came on-board at Williams in 2009, selling off his final shares in the team in 2016.

“Well, we have a different infrastructure and resource than Williams, so we have,” said Wolff to confirm that Mercedes has a spare chassis at this stage in F1 2024.

“But I remember times, even at Mercedes, where it was difficult to get that third one out at the beginning of the season, so we were running that risk at well.

“And certainly in my time at Williams, I don’t think we had any spare chassis for most of the season.”

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Fortunately, Williams are not set to be in that situation this time around, as team principal James Vowles confirmed that the third chassis is expected to be ready in time for Round 6 of the season in Miami at the beginning of May.

“I think the third chassis at the moment won’t be with us until Miami, a long way away,” Vowles revealed.

“In terms of the chassis, if you put all of your resource, everything you possibly had within the organisation on it, you could be eight, 10 weeks that you pretty much get a chassis done, from freezer to something actually built and out there.

“And that’s by the time you get to sort of the third chassis. It takes longer for the first ones as you get used to the process.

“Clearly we don’t have the whole organisation just working on that. We’re working at the same time on spares and updates and trying to get the throughput. Everything’s just a huge amount that goes through the organisation at this stage.

“In our particular case, clearly, we don’t and never had the intention of being here without three chassis. The intention was to have three right at the beginning of the year. It’s an outcome from just an overload within the system, the complexity of this car and the amount that we were trying to push through.

“But in terms of the complexity of it, it’s enormous. I mean, the chassis is thousands and thousands of pieces you’re trying to bring together at the same time.”

Williams, like Alpine, are chasing their first point of the season at the Japanese Grand Prix.

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