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Williams: F1 recovery a bigger job than originally anticipated

Williams says the arrival of new boss James Vowles has made it realise there is more work to do than originally anticipated to move up the Formula 1 grid.

Alex Albon, Williams FW45

The Grove-based squad drafted in Vowles from Mercedes last winter in a bid to turn around several disappointing seasons and make the most of opportunities offered by the new era of F1.

But his knowledge of the level of technology and sophistication that top teams operate at has exposed just how far behind Williams is right now.

Williams' head of vehicle performance Dave Robson said Vowles has put a clear plan in place to help the team recover, but the timescales involved are probably longer than originally anticipated.

"I'm completely confident in what he is doing," said Robson. "The timescales involved in actually seeing the real progress, it may take us beyond '24, perhaps.

"There's quite a lot of rebuilding and restructuring, and getting his experience of what state-of-the-art genuinely looks like has been quite enlightening.

"But it does mean there's a lot to do and probably more to do than we thought there was. So, there's a lot to do but he's set in motion all of the right things, but there's a gestation period to all of that."

Williams has enjoyed a step forward in performance this year and has been in the battle for points, but its current FW45 still lacks downforce compared to many of its rivals.

That competitive situation has left the team knowing that it needs to bring improvements to its current package, even though a lot of focus is being made on a much bigger step forward for 2024.

Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45

Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Asked whether the main focus was on next year or on improving its current challenger, Robson said: "There's a bit of both.

"Those two things are not quite one and the same but to a certain extent they are, in that it's still just about understanding the subtleties of where the car is weak and making sure that at least what we do bring for the rest of this year does what we expect it to and is still helpful for the bigger changes that will come next year."

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Robson said the most valuable thing the team could gain this year is understanding its package and just what it needs to do to make progress.

"I think it still just comes back to the learning," he said. "That's still the most important thing.

"It's understanding the subtleties that you can get with some of the corners as to why the car doesn't behave as the drivers would like it to, and then taking that back to base and understanding what it is we need to do to make it work.

"I think we've got a reasonably good idea, but, obviously, making it happen is not easy."

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