There wasn’t any actual component of in-team competitors at Williams in 2022, as Alex Albon easily took on the position of crew chief previously held by George Russell, leaving Nicholas Latifi in his wake.
This successfully ended Latifi’s three-year Formulation 1 profession and whereas there have been occasional moments of promise by the Canadian – he made Q3 within the moist of Silverstone, for instance – the FW44’s stability points destroyed any confidence he had constructed up within the earlier two seasons.
For Albon, the Williams drive was a profession lifeline after being changed at Pink Bull by Sergio Perez for 2021 and he grabbed it with each palms after a 12 months on the sidelines. It could in all probability be honest to say he was undercooked when in his rookie season he was positioned on the senior Pink Bull crew alongside Max Verstappen. However it might be equally honest to say that he overdelivered at Williams virtually as convincingly as had Russell earlier than him.
His progress was now not littered by incidents and he made a behavior of over-qualifying what was undoubtedly the slowest automobile within the discipline and utilizing out-of-synch methods to realize monitor place over quicker automobiles after which to defend for all he was value. It garnered the crew extra factors than the automobile in all probability warranted.
Latifi contributed a few factors with a gritty ninth within the moist of Suzuka, gained by a chance straight onto intermediates as quickly as the protection automobile got here in.
Albon made Q3 on advantage at Spa, utilising the automobile’s sturdy straightline velocity, and whereas there have been no Russell-style miracle grid positions (George having certified second at Spa and third at Sochi in 2021), in all probability even Russell couldn’t have achieved them had he been within the automobile this 12 months.
Latifi is the baseline for this – and for him there’s completely little question.
“This 12 months’s automobile was a step backwards,” he says. “I assure if George was right here he’d say the identical.
“Final 12 months’s automobile wasn’t straightforward and I did should adapt my driving fashion to it, however this one I discovered significantly troublesome.
“It’s partly the philosophy of this era of automobile; they’re much less driveable, stiffer, extra on the sting, much less forgiving. It’s partly the tyre, partly the aero. However our automobile on the whole has some basic flaws within the stability.
“We’re missing downforce however for me that wasn’t the issue – although clearly you at all times need extra of that. However for me it was concerning the stability, the basic dealing with. It was much like earlier years’ automobiles however extra.
“You already know what you need whenever you hit the brakes and the preliminary enter on entry, mid-corner and exit and it’s all been a bit mismatched and that’s what I discovered significantly troublesome. I wasn’t in a position to get on high of it as strongly as I wanted to. And I didn’t have the arrogance to push the automobile on the restrict.
“It’s a results-based business and the efficiency hasn’t been there, this 12 months significantly and the crew needed to do what’s greatest for them. However I’m undoubtedly happy that I didn’t go away something on the desk, how I went about issues. No regrets. The work on the simulator, I spent a whole lot of time on the simulator. I’ve performed quite a bit attempting to get on high of the problems I’ve had with this automobile. However it didn’t work out.”
Latifi’s deficit to Albon in qualifying, at 0.472%, was larger than in every other team-mate match-up. Though he certified forward of Albon within the moist of Silverstone, the comparability figures are taken solely from dry classes. That margin was additionally larger than Russell’s benefit over Latifi in 2021 (0.319%).
Whereas that may very well be taken as proof that Albon was faster than Russell, realistically it’s a measure of how way more Latifi struggled with the FW44 than the much less dangerous FW43. Inside measures recommend that Albon wasn’t fairly on Russell’s tempo, however the hole was respectably small.
2022 team-mate qualifying gaps*
|Report||Common margin (%)||Common margin (seconds)|
|Albon 12-0 Latifi||0.4717%||0.390s|
|Verstappen 14-3 Perez||0.4001%||0331s|
|Norris 14-1 Ricciardo||0.3548%||0.294s|
|Bottas 9-3 Zhou||0.3399%||0.281s|
|Magnussen 10-5 Schumacher||0.1764%||0.146s|
|De Vries 1-0 Latifi||0.1622%||0.134s|
|Vettel 7-6 Stroll||0.1563%||0.129s|
|Leclerc 10-3 Sainz||0.1521%||0.125s|
|Gasly 7-5 Tsunoda||0.1274%||0.105s|
|Alonso 7-6 Ocon||0.0589%||0.049s|
|Stroll 1-1 Hulkenberg||0.0219%||0.018s|
|Hamilton 11-5 Russell||0.0149%||0.012s|
*Solely dry classes counted. Solely occasions from identical session in contrast (ie if one graduates and the opposite doesn’t, the comparability is just from the session each took half in). Solely trouble-free classes in contrast (ie not mechanically-compromised ones, nor non-serious q-laps due to PU penalties). Percentages all relative to a seasonal pole lap of 1m 22.736s (ie the common of all of the ’22 pole laps on the 17 dry circuits)
Albon has made himself a vastly fashionable member of the crew, however former technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison felt he wanted an additional ingredient, commenting on the official F1 web site: “Alex was a extremely good assist for us, as a result of we’re solely engineers and we want drivers to present us a route. Due to his expertise, it’s helped us and given us the proper route.
“He’s a pleasant particular person – generally too good. He must be a bit extra exhausting with the crew and push us a bit extra, however I’m engaged on this. On daily basis I inform him, ‘It’s important to be a…’ – a phrase I cannot pronounce! If you wish to be a world champion, it’s a must to be like this.”
All Albon can do is proceed to punch within the high quality performances and hope the crew could make progress. He actually units a excessive benchmark for the incoming rookie Logan Sargeant.