James Vowles reveals true extent of Alex Albon’s ‘circa half a million’ Williams FW46 damage

Jamie Woodhouse
Alex Albon, Williams, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Alex Albon heavily damaged his Williams in first practice in Melbourne.

Williams team principal James Vowles has not seen the repair bill yet for Alex Albon’s wrecked FW46, but estimates it to be “circa half a million”.

Albon suffered a major shunt during the opening practice session at the Australian Grand Prix – which he thankfully walked away from unscathed – having lost control of his Williams through Turn 6.

Alex Albon puts ‘circa half a million’ dent in Williams budget

That incident saw Williams hand Albon team-mate Logan Sargeant’s car for the remainder of the race weekend, having not produced a spare chassis for these early rounds of the F1 2024 campaign, as Vowles discussed the extreme damage inflicted, which includes a gearbox now in two pieces and a finished Mercedes power unit.

“So yesterday, the gearbox cracked in two, the engine mounts were completely bent and the engine is done, fundamentally, and the chassis on the front right-corner where the suspension goes in, is torn apart is the best way to say it,” Vowles told media in Melbourne, “I can put my finger into the chassis, which you shouldn’t be able to do just for clarity.

“Overnight the team has been brilliant at working with the structures and stress department and with DO [design office] in order to how we are going to fix this in a short period of time.

“And the team here have managed to get the car back for around about Monday 2am. So we have teams already working on it for Monday onwards in order to get it repaired.

“Until they see it in person, it’ll be very difficult. We’re doing things by photo and entity that we’ve done here, but there’s about four or five mitigation plans in place for it.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Williams say they believe in Logan Sargeant, giving his car to Alex Albon proves they don’t

Seven must-see F1 weekends to tick off your 2024 bucket list – and how to get there as cheaply as possible

Vowles estimated the cost of the repair bill and therefore impact on Williams’ budget to be “circa half a million”, as focus switches to ensuring that both Williams cars will go racing in Suzuka.

And while at this stage that looks “achievable”, Vowles could not offer a guarantee.

“It’s hard until I get the chassis physically back there to give you a full acknowledgement of how difficult it will be,” he said. “But based on the conversations we’ve had overnight, it should all be achievable.

“So the car has to leave by Saturday in order to make it back on time, which gives us effectively near enough a week. And that’s sufficient amounts of time.”

Albon will start Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix P12 in the sole remaining Williams, as he prepares to share the sixth row with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

Read next: Max Verstappen jokes he would ‘flatten’ his car and leave in Logan Sargeant’s position