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Formula 1 Italian GP

Vowles: Albon's Monza F1 drive even better than Montreal performance

Williams Formula 1 boss James Vowles says that Alex Albon’s drive to seventh at Monza was even more impressive than his charge to a similar result in Canada.

Alex Albon, Williams FW45, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

After the flag in Italy, Vowles came on to the radio to tell Albon that he “made it look easy” while his engineer acknowledged that it was the Thai/British driver’s best race yet with the team.

In achieving both of his 2023 seventh-place finishes, Albon made good use of the strong straightline performance of the FW45 to conduct a stout defence.

However, Vowles stressed that it was easier to do that in Montreal than in Monza, where the driver in front is more vulnerable.

PLUS: How Monza shows Albon's transformation to fearsome F1 battler

Despite that, Albon stayed ahead of quicker cars for many laps, and successfully kept Lando Norris behind at the flag.

“I think in Montreal there is actually really only one overtaking point,” Vowles told Autosport. “And if you get your exit right there, and do the right things, you can stop it.

“In Monza there are the three or four areas where you can quite easily lose position. And in fact, you did see Alex lose position but, when he did, he positioned himself straight away for the repass.

“So he was very much in control of what he was doing in that race, and the result was very much the reward of seventh place. It would have been easy to lose one, and then those three positions, and he never did.

“Again, if we go back to Montreal, we were fortunate in some regards, it was Esteban [Ocon] behind with the ‘wobbly’ rear wing.

“Here, you had Lando who was at some points three tenths behind on the run down to Turn 1. And yet Alex finished in front.”

Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Photo by: Williams

Williams was always likely to be competitive at Monza, and Vowles admitted to some relief that Albon was able to convert those expectations to a good result after a surprise eighth place in the Dutch Grand Prix the previous weekend.

“The fight for seventh for the championship is a matter of points,” he said. “And we're not foolish, it will take just one race to completely undo the hard work that's been built up.

“What was important to me is Zandvoort was about making sure that at other types of tracks, especially high downforce, we can go ahead and score points.

“This one was can we manage the expectations on our shoulders of you should be scoring points here with the car you have, and deliver?

“I think the reward of seventh is where that car could be in the best of scenarios.

“And as you saw, in fact, I'd even argue the race car was slightly off that, but we've walked away quite happily with as good a result as we could have achieved.”

Vowles acknowledged that logging 21 points two-thirds of the way through the season was a “dream” for the Grove outfit.

"Yeah, definitely,” he said when asked if that was better than hoped for. “It would have been churlish to throw away the fact that we have been on a few points at the back end of the championship for many years. And to be where we are now I think is a dream.”

Regarding the next race in Singapore he said: “The summary is there's still going to be some elements of our weakness there. But I don't think we'll be trailing out in Q1. I think we have learned a lot - I'm actually quite excited to go there.”

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