Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso has tipped Williams as one of the teams to watch for the Italian Grand Prix, claiming the rejuvenated outfit could even challenge for a podium finish at Monza.
Having finished bottom of the Constructors’ standings four times in the last five seasons, Williams currently sit seventh on 15 points with nine rounds of the 2023 season remaining.
Lead driver Alex Albon claimed his and the team’s fourth points finish of the year at last weekend’s Dutch GP, where an inspired qualifying performance saw him secure fourth on the grid.
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
Fernando Alonso wary of Williams and Ferrari threat at Monza
With Albon’s rookie team-mate Logan Sargeant also securing his best qualifying result of the season in the Netherlands, the pace of the Williams proved to be a major surprise at Zandvoort, with the FW45 car tending to excel at high-speed, low-downforce tracks such as Monza – the stage for the 14th round this weekend.
Albon was forced to miss last year’s race at Monza through illness, with Nyck de Vries deputising at short notice to claim a fine ninth-placed finish on his grand prix debut.
Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher on Thursday in Italy, Alonso has backed Williams to challenge for a top-three result in the Italian GP.
And he believes home favourites Ferrari, who set pole position at the fast Baku street track with Charles Leclerc in April, will also fancy their chances this weekend.
Asked if he is wary of the Williams threat, he said: “They will be fast, I think. Two teams, [according to] our numbers, will stand out here.
“One is Williams with the top speed that they’ve show through the season, and the other one will be Ferrari because, like in Canada, it’s long straights, short corners, chicanes – anything like that, they are super fast.
“So those two teams will be, I think, the biggest challenge for us in terms of competitiveness and they could fight for the podium between them.”
The Mercedes-powered Williams team were fearsomely quick at Monza in the early years of F1’s V6 hybrid era, with Alonso’s former Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa finishing third behind the all-conquering Mercedes cars in consecutive seasons in 2014 and 2015.
Williams remain without a podium since George Russell was classified second at the abandoned Belgian GP of 2021, with Lance Stroll’s third place in the 2017 Azerbaijan GP the team’s last true podium result.
The team have not won a race since Pastor Maldonado held off Alonso’s Ferrari to take victory at the 2012 Spanish GP at Barcelona.