Rival team weighs in as Williams ‘$10 million’ Australian GP decision is dissected

Michelle Foster
Alex Albon meets fans in Australia.

Alex Albon has been given his team-mate's car after crashing in Australian Grand Prix practice.

Choosing to give Alex Albon’s Logan Sargeant’s chassis in Australia, Helmut Marko says it was the right call in a tussle worth “up to $10 million” per point.

Albon crashed in Friday’s opening practice session at the Australian Grand Prix, the Thai-British racer sheering off all four corners of his FW46 and also damaging the chassis.

Helmut Marko supports Williams’ Aus GP call

Creating half a million dollars in damage that included a finger-seized hole in the cockpit, Williams team boss James Vowles made the difficult call to give Albon Sargeant’s chassis from FP3 onwards.

“Even the probability of scoring a point is what’s important to me at the moment. I have hard decisions to make and mine is for the wellbeing of this organisation as a whole. And that is I’ll do everything it takes to score the point if it is available to us,” he said in a grilling by Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz.

Ablon finished the Grand Prix in 11th place, undone by tyre wear and some questionable driving from Nico Hulkenberg.

Marko, though, still reckons it was the right call from Williams.

“It’s incredibly hard for the last five teams to finish in the points,” he told Speedweek. “That’s why I understand Williams’ decision to give Albon Sargeant’s car after his crash.

“Albon is the much stronger driver and a championship point can be worth up to $10 million. In that respect, it was a logical thing.”

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The updated Drivers’ and Constructors’ standings after the Australian GP

It was, however a blow to Sargeant.

Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, the Australian Channel 10 hosts had a go at Sargeant’s number two status within Williams.

Saying he must feel “pretty unloved”, they added that he’s the number “two and he’s felt like number two”, they added: “There’s no escaping it. He will go home with his tail between his legs, didn’t get to race and they end up with no points.”

Dubbed a “difficult call” by Williams, they added that it’s also “hard to believe in this day and age that a team only had enough parts for one car. In my lifetime, I can’t remember that happening before.

“So the idea that, you know, two guys are sharing one car.”

Tom Clarkson pointed out that the “Williams team are going to be busy mending Alex Albon’s chassis between now and Japan.

“I don’t know this but the implication would be that they’re going to be having just two cars at the Japanese Grand Prix in a couple of weeks time. It’s a fast track, there’s very little runoff.”

1996 World Champion Damon Hill responded to that: “It is development. They kept developing this car as late as they could, they knew that they were going to be up against it at the start of the year, but they took that decision.

“They said let’s keep developing this thing as late as possible. We’re only going to have two cars for the start of the season. Don’t crash it lad!

“But that’s where the problem arose.

“I think there’ll be a change in strategy, well not next year because I think a lot of the cars are going to run from this year to next year because the rules are the same and the ’26 rule changes have forced them to focus on that.

“It’s been a bit of a wake-up call for James Vowles just a year into the job. And while I think he’s doing a great job, I think he will rue that decision.”

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