Questions over Williams’ ‘pushed-it-too-hard’ preparations after F1 Testing niggles

Michelle Foster
Alex Albon breaks down in testing.

Williams had a few niggles in pre-season testing.

The only team not to hit the century mark on Day One in Bahrain, it has been suggested there is a “small feeling inside” the Williams team that maybe they took too many “risks” in their pre-season preparations.

Williams were late to the on-track party this pre-season with team boss James Vowles making the call to cover more virtual track sessions back at the factory before putting the car through a shakedown the day prior to the Bahrain test.

It was a conscious decision from Vowles and not a case of Williams’ preparations having been delayed.

‘A small feeling inside the team that maybe they pushed it a little bit too hard’

A day after the shakedown the team was on track for the start of F1’s three days of pre-season testing with Alex Albon taking the morning session before handing the car over to Logan Sargeant in the afternoon.

But between a fuel pick-up issue that left Albon stranded on the side of the track and a driveshaft problem when Sargeant was in the car, the team covered just 61 laps on Wednesday. Every other team hit the century mark.

F1 correspondent Lawrence Barretto believes the team may be feeling they pushed it a little too close to the line, especially given the changes they made with this year’s FW46.

“Williams are one of those teams that pushed design and production to the absolute limit,” he told the official F1 coverage.

“They only shook the car down for the first time yesterday [Tuesday], when I was talking to Pat Fry he said that all went smoothly.

“But I think there is potentially a small feeling inside the team that maybe they pushed it a little bit too hard, maybe they took a few more risks in that, because obviously what we’re seeing now is those niggles.

“I know that’s what testing is for, it’s to clear out all those niggles, but in an ideal world, you want to clear those out in the shakedown so that you can have the clear run.

“I think sometimes when you maybe push the envelope too far, and you maybe take a few more risks – and we’ve heard Alex Albon talk about how this car is more an all-rounder rather than the straight-line beast that it was last year – they kind of changed the way they go about designing a car.

“Sometimes we’re seeing right in front of us is what can happen if you just push it a little bit too far.” recommends

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Risk versus reward for Williams

He fears losing out on track time given how short this year’s pre-season is, could have a big impact on Williams’ season with the team now on the back foot.

“Now you have to adjust your program completely,” he added. “They’re not going to get through everything that they wanted to so that’s going to put them on to the back foot.

“You can never really catch up when you’ve only obviously got three days of tests and I know it’s the same for everyone.

“But when you’re a team like Williams, where you’re fighting in a very compact midfield, that could really hurt them early on when they’re looking for you know those kinds of low-hanging fruit.”

However, his fellow pundit Anthony Davidson believes running close to the line is both a “sacrifice” and a”risk” for a team such as Williams has to make in order to close the gap on F1’s leading teams.

“Well these are the sacrifices the team has to make in this day and age of Formula 1, and cost caps, and the the lack of wind tunnel time,” said the former F1 driver.

“And that lack of infrastructure that a team like Williams has compared to the bigger teams out there, the Ferraris, the Red Bulls, and Mercedes of this world, you are playing catch up.

“And at some point, if you want to catch them up, you’re going to have to take potentially bigger risks, I guess, then they’re taking in the off-season.”

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