While Williams consolidated their seventh place position in the Constructors’ Championship in Zandvoort, James Vowles was disappointed with eighth place.
Having spent his weekend dicing away in the points places, Alex Albon scored an eighth place at the chequered flag at the Dutch Grand Prix – a result that gave Williams a four-point lead in the Constructors’ Championship as they pulled away from Haas, Alfa Romeo, and AlphaTauri.
But, despite the tremendous result for the lower-midfield team, there was a sense of opportunity missed – Albon having been in sixth place immediately prior to the heavy rain shower that hit in the closing stages.
James Vowles: Williams ‘disappointed’ despite stellar result
While eighth place would usually be a cause for celebration for Williams, team boss James Vowles explained that there was disappointment in the ranks as they felt a stronger result had gone begging.
With Logan Sargeant having crashed out of the race with a suspected hydraulic issue affecting his steering, Albon’s run to sixth place was ruined by a decision to stay out just a single lap too long – the conditions changing from dry to wet during the course of Lap 44, resulting in Albon losing time to Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
“We walk away with an eighth-place which, given a normal race weekend, would be an incredible result. And yet, we’re disappointed,” Vowles said after the race.
“We’re disappointed because, for a lot of that race, we were P6 on merit. Sixth place with actually the cars behind pulling away and dropping back relative to us. That’s a huge achievement.
“That’s something that we can all be proud of. Coming in here, that’s far more than we expected. And yet that’s the result that we had in front of us today.”
Explaining where Williams had slipped up, Vowles explained that both tyre calls to switch to the intermediate tyre could have been handled better.
“We didn’t get everything right, both on two different calls today,” he said.
“The first call, on the inter decision, and the second call, which is coming in for inters again.
“They are fine margin choices, very few cars, in fact, got them right. On the first call, inters would have been the right choice – Red Bull and Sergio Perez definitely got that right.”
James Vowles: Committing to the dry tyre came back to us
With Albon having gone against the grain by not pitting for intermediates early on, losing buckets of time to those who had – as did Valtteri Bottas, Oscar Piastri, and Sargeant – committing to staying on the dry tyre did eventually come back to him as the track dried.
“But, after you missed that Lap 1 and 2, actually the best thing to do is what we did, is commit, and it came back to us,” Vowles said.
“Not as good as it could have been if we’d stopped, but we did come back into that point-scoring position.”
The Williams team boss explained that there had been an element of bad luck to the timing of the final tyre swap, due to positioning on the race track.
“On the second one, we knew it was going to rain hard,” he said.
“It’s just a balancing act between where. In many regards, there’s luck involved in it, because you’re waiting to see whether or not you’re on a wet part of the circuit or not to others.
“We’re also fortunate – a number of cars you saw going off at Turn 1, because they were 30 seconds different on the track to us. We need to take that learning away and make sure that we build tools, systems, and methods to capture and do better decisions going forward.
“But, that aside, I think the main point for us is that we’ve got another point in the map where we can move forward in our stretch for learning how to operate this car, develop this car, and fight for seventh in the championship.”