Williams F1 calls day one of testing ‘useful’ despite technical faults

On the first day of pre-season testing at Bahrain International Circuit, nine of the ten Formula 1 teams put in 100 laps or more.

The only team not to hit the century mark? Williams. Due to two different technical faults — a fuel pump failure during Alexander Albon’s morning session and a driveshaft problem in the middle of Logan Sargeant’s afternoon run — the team only completed 61 laps on Wednesday.

Still, it was a “useful” day for the team, according to Dave Robson, the team’s Head of Vehicle Performance.

“Today was not as smooth as we had hoped with two time-consuming issues causing us to end both sessions early: Alex suffered with a fuel pump failure and Logan a driveshaft problem,” outlined Robson in the team’s post-session media report.

“Although both drivers had only limited running, we were able to complete some useful work to understand the basic characteristics of the FW46 and to correlate these with our simulations. Whilst there is certainly scope to improve the balance of the car, we are now in a strong position to focus on this tomorrow,” added Robson.

Albon was able to complete 40 of those laps, and when the dust settled his effort was good for P15. While that was probably a shorter stint than he was hoping for, the driver noted that the FW46 has “fixed” some of the issues the team had with the FW45, their challenger for 2023.

“It was an ok first day. It’s hot and windy out there so not always the nicest conditions to drive in, but generally, it was a relatively smooth day. We had a fuel pump issue towards the end of my session which we fixed,” outlined Albon. “We’re trying to understand just how different the car is from last year, however we know it’s early days to say what the car is like.

“It has definitely fixed some of our previous issues, however, as a consequence, we’re combating some balance trade-offs. We’ve got three days of testing which never feels like enough time but we’re getting there and making inroads already.”

Following the launch of the FW46 in New York City earlier this month, Albon noted that consistency from track to track was what he was hoping to see from this year’s challenger. “More often, I think consistency is a big feature this year is what I want to see,” said Albon to the media, including SB Nation, earlier this month. “When you look at last year to this year, we had so many high peaks, but also we were going to race weekends where we knew we weren’t going to score points.

“And that’s just because of the limitations of the car and how unique our car was. This year with all the simulator work and development that we’ve done to that part, It is a totally different approach to how we normally went down. It’s a complete divergence from the last three or four years that the team’s been been designed around.

“I believe we’re still gonna keep most of our good qualities. But hopefully, you know, when we go to tracks like Monaco or Barcelona, we should see a car that’s more in line and not out in Q1 and struggling,” concluded Albon.

Albon’s early retirement on Wednesday was just part of their story on the first day of testing. During the afternoon session the team saw Sargeant spin out in Turn 9, before his day came to an early close due to a driveshaft problem with his FW46.

“We didn’t get through everything we wanted to do today but it wasn’t all negative. The car is different so that takes some ironing out in a positive way,” said Sargeant.

“Whilst it’s the direction we needed to head with the car, there are some balance issues that we still need to tune out but it has taken away a lot of the big issues we had last year. It’s just about managing the new way the car needs to be set up and driven, so once we figure it out, it’ll be a better car,” added the American driver. “For the moment, I’ve only done 21 laps, so I’m looking forward to a whole day in the car tomorrow. Hopefully, we can understand the issues we had today and get on top of them.”

Sargeant managed to finish the day in P11.

He will get the full workload on Thursday, before Albon closes out the week on Friday.

Looking ahead, Robson believes the team can maximize their time over the next two days, and put themselves on the front foot heading into the start of the campaign.

“Having shared the driving with Alex today, Logan will complete the full day tomorrow. This will give him some valuable time in the car as well as the opportunity to run successive sets of new tyres at a range of fuel loads,” said Robson.

“Ideally, we would’ve done more running today, however, we were able to do some very high-value testing, and we uncovered some issues in the process. There are two full days of pre-season testing left and therefore plenty of opportunity to complete our preparation for the season ahead,” added Robson.

The second day of testing gets underway in a few short hours, and we will see if Williams can take a step forward after a first day filled with some mixed results.

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