Williams hope to get Albon's damaged chassis ready for Japan

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Williams Team Principal James Vowles have confirmed that the Grove-based team will be ready with the repair job on Alexander Albon's heavily damaged chassis for next weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.

Having displayed encouraging speed at the beginning of Free Practice 1, Albon lost control of his Williams FW46 in Turn 6. The incident caused significant damage to the chassis of Albon's car. Following a thorough analysis in Melbourne, the team came to the conclusion that the chassis was damaged beyond repair.

The Grove-based team elected to withdraw Logan Sargeant from the event as it felt they had more chance to score points with Albon on a race weekend that usually sees an incident-filled race. Although several top drivers, including championship runaway leader Max Verstappen, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and his team-mate George Russell retired from the Melbourne race for different reasons, the Thai driver was unable to capitalize on it and finished in P11 outside the point-scoring positions.

As Williams do not have a spare chassis at the moment, the British team has been racing against time to get Albon's chassis ready for next weekend's Japanese Grand Prix. The team took pictures of the damaged chassis in Melbourne and sent them to the engineers who work at Williams headquarters in Grove. The chassis arrived in Grove on Monday, and the team could commence work on it immediately, as the engineers were able to assess the exact scale and sort of damage with the help of the images.

Speaking of the actual state of the damaged chassis, Vowles said: “We put measures in place to make sure the chassis was back here very early on Monday morning – I think it arrived at around 2am or so. Since then there were already crews inside the building working on that, stripping it down and doing repairs. We’re in a good place for having the chassis back early enough for Suzuka.”

He continued: “A lot of the work was done actually back in Melbourne. There were photographs and techniques called NDT, which is non-destructive testing. There’s various ones you can do there but it allows us to fully understand how big the damage is and what we have to do, and that preparation was key.

“What it meant was already at 2am on Monday, work could start. It wasn’t then a reflection on what was happening, it was more, ‘this is what we’re doing and this is how we execute it’. In Suzuka we’ll have two cars without too many issues.”

The former Mercedes chief strategist confirmed that Williams will be forced to complete Round 4 of the 2024 F1 season without a spare chassis which means that Albon and Sargeant will need to take extra care in Japan to avoid a similar unfortunate scenario that happened to the team in Australia.

“The original plan before the season started was to have three chassis, as you would expect, at round one,” he commented. “That gently slipped toward round three as items became more and more delayed.

“Since then, and especially with the work that we’re doing now on chassis number two, there is again going to be a small amount of delay. That said, we will have a [spare] chassis soon.

“In terms of how much work it is, as you can probably gather by the fact of it’s not available to us now, it is weeks and weeks of work, it is thousands of hours spent in composites in order to get it ready. It’s one of the biggest jobs within an F1 team, and you’ve got to get it right.

“Even when it’s built, it then has to have a number of items completed to it, including machining to get it in exactly the right state so it’s ready for racing. It will be with us soon. In the meantime, we have to deal with the circumstances we have in front of us.”