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Albon: New Williams F1 car feels "very different" in the simulator

Alex Albon has said his new Williams FW46 has a "very different feeling" in the Formula 1 simulator than its peaky predecessor.

Williams Racing FW46

Williams Racing FW46

Williams

Albon and Williams excelled in 2023 on circuits that suited the low-drag FW45, which competed towards the front of the midfield on low-downforce circuits like Monza and Montreal, but had too many weaknesses to be an all-round contender throughout the season.
Williams' biggest priority for the FW46 was to cure some of its foul handling characteristics and turn it into a consistent points score at a wider variety of circuits.
Having sampled his new kit in the Grove simulator, Albon has been encouraged that the FW46 is already feeling "very different" than last year's machine.
"Very different. More than anything, different feeling, so a different driving style [is needed]," Albon said. "I don't want to speak too soon, but the FW45 always had some consistent limitations with the car, especially when we went to tracks like Monaco or Barcelona they were highlighted.
"Low speed was always a big issue for us, braking was always a big issue for us, but also high-speed, long corners were difficult for us.
"Definitely, in the simulator you can see that these areas have improved, but at the same time that comes with quite a different driving style. When we hit the track, you can really start to try to understand it and pick it apart."
Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Photo by: Williams

When asked how much of Williams' 2024 changes were based off his feedback, Albon said: "It's not just my feedback, it's every team-mate, even 2020 and 2021 when I wasn't even driving the car, it had the same issues, so there has always been an inherent issue with the Williams cars in the last four or five years.
"This year especially, we've sacrificed a little bit of development time on the FW45 to focus on the FW46, shorten the amount of upgrades we had on the car, to make sure that we tried to attack this car a little bit more aggressively and really start to change the DNA of the car. That's the plan. Let's see if it happens."
Williams just managed to hang on to seventh in the championship against a resurgent AlphaTauri, but its points tally of 28 was still leagues away from the team ahead, with Alpine finishing on 120 points.
Amid optimism over Williams' capacity to make significant progress this year, Albon thinks closing such a sizable gap in the points table is a healthy goal to set if the new car is as versatile as hoped.
"I would say when you look at where we finished last year, we just about held off our AlphaTauri but when you actually look at the gap to P6 and P5, that still quite a big jump," he said.
"Then after Alpine you've got a rather substantial gap to the Astons, McLarens, Mercedes and you're basically in the top field by that point.
Williams Racing FW46

Williams Racing FW46

Photo by: Williams

"I want to be fighting Alpine and nipping on the heels of that top group. I think that's a realistic performance expectation for us as a team and then let's see how it how it unfolds.
"Podiums and wins, I think realistically we won't be there this year. If we can be regularly in the points that will be great. 
"With the change of approach with our car, we need to be consistent to be that kind of top six, top five team, which we weren't last year. And I'm very interested to see how we fare in the tracks where we struggled; Monaco, Barcelona, these kinds of places."
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