Albon crash sets Latifi back for Williams upgrade

Michelle Foster
FIA medical doctor checks on Alex Albon after his lap 1 crash. Silverstone July 2022

FIA medical doctor checks on Williams driver Alex Albon after his lap 1 crash. Silverstone July 2022

Nicholas Latifi may have to wait until after F1’s summer break to get his hands on the revised FW44 after Alex Albon’s crash left the team facing a parts shortage.

Williams introduced a heavily upgraded car at the British Grand Prix but only had enough parts for one car, Albon getting the nod ahead of his team-mate.

That decision was based on their rankings in the points, Albon with three points on the board and Latifi yet to get off the mark.

Williams never had the opportunity to see how the revised car would do in race conditions in the dry with Albon suffering a heavy crash on the opening lap.

The Thai-British driver was clipped by Sebastian Vettel as a crash further up the order forced those behind to hit the brakes.

The impact sent Albon nose-first into the concrete barrier, the driver airlifted to a local hospital for evaluation before being released later the same night.

While Albon escaped unhurt, the same cannot be said of his car.

That could have a long-term impact on Latifi’s season, the Canadian likely to have to wait weeks to get his hands on the upgrade.

“He had a sizeable crash. I’m sure that will set the factory back,” the Canadian said, quoted by The Race.

“[It’s] not his fault. A shame for the team because it will definitely set the whole programme back and there’s a reason why we don’t have two this weekend.

“We have to see with the extent of the damage on Alex’s car. Not everything is different on his car, a lot of big things are, but I haven’t actually seen the damage on his car. I suspect it will be a lot of the upgrade package damage.

“How much of it is salvageable and repairable? How much do we need to wait for brand-new parts altogether? If that’s the case, could be even later for me.”

But despite racing the old-spec Williams, Latifi outqualified Albon in the wet on Saturday as he broke into the top 10 for the first time this season.

Lining up P10 on the grid, he finished the race in 12th place as he lost out to his rivals at the late Safety Car restart.

“For the whole first stint I was in a race for points-paying positions,” Latifi said.

“I was in between a pack of cars I thought was way faster than me, just in that DRS train that was able to keep me there.

“[It was] nice to get those competitive feelings back again. I was trying to hang on as long as I could, I was pushing flat out, no management, but once the pit-stops happened I came to the natural pace of the car once things spread out, more single file, no DRS train.

“Reality is I’m in the 10th slowest car on the grid and just unfortunate even with the tyre advantage compared to [Kevin] Magnussen at the end, we are just lacking so much downforce – even in the high-speed corners we just destroy fresh soft tyres.

“It’s frustrating to not be able to challenge more. Realistically, coming into the race expecting points? No, but when you are in those positions for a while, you see a retirement here, a retirement there, you just hope you can stay in that pack but it wasn’t to be.”