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albon crash melbourne f1

Vowles: Williams will have two cars in Japan but no spare

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Williams F1 team are confident they will be back up to strength with two cars at next week’s Japanese Grand Prix, after embarrassing Formula 1 by having only one for the Australian Grand Prix last Sunday due to crash damage, but will still have no spare.

Logan Sargeant had to sit out the race in Melbourne after more experienced team mate Alex Albon, the effective number one driver, wrecked his car in practice and was then given the American’s due to the lack of a third chassis.

Team principal James Vowles said in a debrief posted on www.williamsf1.com, states that both drivers would be racing at Suzuka.

From the Williams factory in Grove, Vowles said of the Albon’s damaged car: “I’m confident we’ll be able to fix the chassis. We put measures in place to make sure the chassis was back here  pretty early on Monday morning, I think it arrived at around 2 a.m.”

He added that it was then immediately stripped down and repairs carried out: “In Suzuka we’ll have two cars without too many issues. We won’t have a spare chassis in Japan.

“The original plan before the season started was to have three chassis as you would expect at round one and that gently slipped towards round three as items became more and more delayed.

“Since then, and especially with the work we’re doing now on chassis number two, there is again going to be a small amount of delay. That said, we will have a (third) chassis soon,” added Vowles.

Vowles: The whole world has seen where we are in reality

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Explaining the gaffe, Vowles said building a chassis was thousands of hours of work in the composites department and one of the biggest jobs within a Formula One team.

Williams, seventh overall in 2023 with Albon taking 27 of their 28 points, have yet to score in three races so far this season. Vowles expected the bottom five teams to be in a tight battle through the season, with the top five filling most of the points places.

He said prioritising Albon over Sargeant in Melbourne had been by far his hardest decision in Formula 1 but the correct one on performance: “The whole world has seen where we are in reality and how far behind we are and what work we have to do to move forward.”

Nevertheless, the possibility of one car, or even both, failing to make the grid for the race on Sunday at Suzuka are higher than normal. The old-school track punishes the wayward, and the Williams drivers hardly inspire confidence that they won’t have an incident at the challenging venue. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)