Williams in 2024 | ‘Williams has the best credentials to become a full-fledged candidate in midfield’

- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_img
Williams in 2024 |  'Williams has the best credentials to become a full-fledged candidate in midfield'

Williams managed to take a big step forward in 2023. The last place from a year earlier was exchanged for a nice seventh place in the constructors’ championship. Under the leadership of new team boss James Vowles, Grove is working hard to bring Williams back to the top. Can the British team take another step in 2024? And can Logan Sargeant convince this season? We discuss it with editors Lieke Jacobs and Wim G. Vandebilt.

The years in which Williams competed for the world title are now far behind us and for the last Grand Prix victory we have to go back to 2012, when Pastor Maldonado surprisingly won the Spanish GP. In recent years, the British racing team has consistently been found in the lower regions. Between 2018 and 2022, Williams finished last in the final rankings no less than four times, but in 2023 the path to the top was taken. Vowles was plucked from Mercedes to replace departed team boss Jost Capito. Under his leadership, the team managed to score 28 points last year, which was good enough for seventh place in the constructors’ championship. That of course leaves us wanting more, but can Williams continue this upward trend in 2024?

Jacobs certainly expects that. ‘I think they really took a big step in the right direction in 2023, and it seems strong to me that they will not continue that upward trend in 2024. Everything seems to be right: Albon finally has the space to show his talent and has the necessary experience to help the team further, Sargeant has only just started, but in my opinion he did a lot better during the second half of the season, and the team is extremely driven,” Jacobs expresses her confidence in a stronger Williams. ‘In 2022 they were last in the constructors’ championship with only 8 points without any prospects for the future, but I think the British team currently has the best credentials to become a full-fledged candidate in the midfield, if they weren’t already one in 2023. They already have the necessary stability and drive, now they just need a car that can also help them achieve the desired result.’

Text continues after the image.

f1maximum williams 2024
Opinions are divided about Williams’ final ranking in 2024. Yet the majority believe the British team will not back down. (Photo: F1Maximaal.nl)

However, not everyone in the editorial team is convinced that Williams can continue the trend of 2023. “There are several reasons why Williams can be expected to drop one place in the constructors’ rankings, even if Albon does better than in 2023,” Vandebilt begins, before explaining his forecast. ‘It is not expected that Williams will overtake Alpine, because the French team’s lead is too big, and it is likely that it will remain that way, especially since Alpine has already made a big leap, despite all the technical problems. that they have experienced. In addition, there is the stick that Visa Cash App RB will put between the spokes of the Williams, with the closer collaboration with Oracle Red Bull Racing. Effectively, this will mean that the new car of the former AlphaTauri and Toro Rosso will be the RB19 in terms of effectiveness and race pace. Given the technological advance that this car had, it could even be that this car also passes Alpine.’

Can Sargeant close the gap to Albon?

Williams will stick with the same driver pair in 2024 and that is somewhat surprising. In his debut season, Sargeant was outclassed on all fronts by his more experienced teammate Albon. While Albon managed to score 27 points, the American’s score remained at one meager point. Despite a disappointing season, Sargeant still received the confidence of Williams, but things will have to improve in 2024. However, no one in the editorial office expects him to be the boss of Albon, but can the 23-year-old from Fort Lauderdale convince this year or at least connect with his teammate? Opinions are divided about this.

‘I assume that the difference between the two men will become smaller in the coming season. Albon of course already has the necessary years of experience and even knows what it is like to drive for a top team next to a driver who is almost unbeatable. Sargeant of course still misses that’, Jacobs shows understanding for the difficult debut season of the American talent. ‘He has only had one year and in a Williams car your debut season will not be nearly as easy as in a McLaren car, for example. I therefore think that we are underestimating Sargeant a bit at the moment, because despite the fact that his results were quite disappointing in 2023, he did not do that bad at all in Formula 2. I think Franz Tost’s theory is also correct in Sargeant’s case, because I assume that he will do a lot better now that he has more experience. However, I don’t think he will be able to completely close the gap with Albon,” said Jacobs.

Text continues after the image.

f1maximum drivers williams 2024
The editors are fully convinced that Sargeant will once again lose out to Albon. (Photo: F1Maximaal.nl)

Vandebilt, however, has a different opinion. Sargeant has made little impression and as far as Vandebilt is concerned, Williams would have been better off giving the seat next to Albon to another talent. ‘In my opinion, Sargeant is not of the caliber that you should expect from a Formula 1 driver, and he does not belong there either. At the end of the 2023 season he seemed to be doing slightly better, but given the performance of his teammate, he significantly underperformed,” is his harsh assessment of the American’s performance last season.

Vandebilt finds it incomprehensible that the 23-year-old indicated that he had difficulty getting used to changing the many settings while driving. According to him, the chance that Sargeant will be back on the grid in 2025 is not great. ‘A racing car driver must actually have mastered this before he starts competing. The fact that he has difficulty with this means to me that he does not belong in Formula 1, and in fact should not have been given a seat for 2024. In that respect, Williams would have been better off using one of the emerging (Mercedes) talents, as they are also effectively a kind of training team for Mercedes. With Hamilton’s switch to Ferrari in 2025, I don’t see Sargeant still having a seat after this year, unless he improves enormously. However, I don’t see that happening,” Vandebilt predicts.

‘Vowles is the right man to get the team back on track’

In contrast to Sargeant, Albon is often praised for his excellent performances in 2023, but Vowles’ role in the success should not be underestimated. Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson recently stated that the influence of the former Mercedes employee was already visible in 2023. Vandebilt draws the same conclusion. ‘It is clear that communication and cooperation between the different parts of the company have improved significantly. And based on the interviews I have read and heard in which Vowles was questioned about his approach and plans, I can only conclude that he is the right man to get the team back on track.’ Given the limited financial options, not much progress will be possible in the short term. ‘As he himself indicated, this is a process that cannot be measured in days or weeks, but in years. At the earliest, I don’t see Williams participating in midfield again until 2026,” said Vandebilt.

Text continues after the image.

vowles williams abu dhabi 2023
Vowles made an important contribution to Williams’ significant step forward in 2023. (Photo: ProShots)

Jacobs also thinks that Vowles’ role is significant, but she does not dare to say exactly how big it is. ‘It is difficult to draw concrete conclusions about this after one year, but I think Vowles’ role is really, really big. This was also reflected in the results of the past year, because under his leadership Albon rode brilliantly with the rather inadequate material he had at his disposal. And the fact that he has and continues to give Sargeant the confidence says a lot about Vowles’ mentality,” Jacobs is full of praise for the team boss of the British team. ‘I think Williams has benefited and will continue to benefit greatly from the Briton’s future prospects, because after his years at Mercedes and as a kind of student of Toto Wolff, he has learned the tricks of the trade at one of the best top teams in the world. Being able to learn F1, and that comes in handy now.’

Jacobs now believes in Vowles’ method, but she must admit that she had her reservations in the beginning. ‘A year ago I was still skeptical about the plans and planned restructuring that Vowles wanted to implement. But I think that the growth that the team showed in 2023 has shown that they are on the right track and that they secretly largely owe this to the new team boss,” concludes Jacobs.

- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_img
Latest news
- Advertisement -spot_img
Related news
- Advertisement -spot_img