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Formula 1 Miami GP

Vowles: Williams encourages Albon to speak his mind on F1 radio

Williams Formula 1 team principal James Vowles says he’s happy for Alex Albon to challenge strategy calls during races as it can be “constructive”.

Alex Albon, Williams FW45

During the Miami GP Albon was heard to question the team’s requests to push harder, and on a different occasion, to manage his tyres.

Although such responses appear uncharacteristic given Albon’s calm personality out of the car, Vowles says he’s happy to have such feedback from his driver.

“I actually encourage it, I think it's a positive thing,” Vowles told Autosport. “There’s going to be no one better who knows what's going on in the car but him. I've heard it a few times with him. But it's constructive, it’s not negative.

“Alex's frustration was normal. He was in a phase where we knew we had an opportunity against Valtteri [Bottas], but only if we could create a tyre offset relative to the two of them. And more importantly, the threat from behind was going to be enormous.

“And it was a fine balance. He'll look back on it in hindsight and realise that whatever we did, that's where we were going to end up.

"It was an awful position for the engineer, because there's no good answer to it. Push then, and we would have looked even worse, manage more, and we would have been where we were.

“That's why I mean Alex can look at it afterwards and say, ‘OK I understand why you didn't know which way to go with it.’”

James Vowles, Team Principal, Williams Racing

James Vowles, Team Principal, Williams Racing

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Albon eventually finished the Miami race in 14th place, having slipped back from an encouraging 11th on the grid, but Vowles says there were positive signs given all 20 cars were still running at the flag.

"I'm pretty happy that what we delivered is where the car was,” said Vowles. “We took the first stint as long as you possibly can, tried to balance the two stints, but irrespective, there was just a couple of tenths missing.

“The positive to it is we finished 10 seconds behind the points, but there was no attrition, nothing went wrong. No VSCs, no safety cars, no yellows, no rain, nothing.

“And 10 seconds behind the points for the car that we have. I'm okay with. It's not a track that I thought would suit us whatsoever at all. And that's what transpired.”

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Looking at the bigger picture, Vowles said: “The disappointing element is of course we're still 10th in the championship. Haas again moved forward with further points. The other thing that's interesting is it changes race-on-race – if you go back to Baku, McLaren were mighty.

“The way I've described it is there's four teams pretty much fighting for that last point, and it’s going to be down to track characteristics, and just whether you do a good job or not.”

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