Monaco layout halved our weight issue, says Vowles

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Williams team boss James Vowles said that the unique layout of the challenging Monte Carlo street circuit helped the Grove-based outfit to halve its deficit to its rivals.

Williams have started its 2024 F1 campaign in disappointing fashion as the team has failed to score any points until last Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.

The Grove-based squad implemented key changes to its 2024 F1 car with the aim to make it more of an "all-rounder" that can be competitive on a variety of circuits, and not only on tracks that favaour straight-line speed.

Since the start of the season, the team has struggled for outright one-lap pace which has been a setback for them after Alexander Albon has made multiple Q3 appearances last year.

However, the Thai driver managed to get out of Q2 in the all-important Monaco qualifying session to secure eighth spot on the grid which he could maintain in the race.

Speaking of the team's first points of the year, team boss James Vowles said: "We have actually a little bit of a tradition which I don't mind sharing with you which is we use a banner in Grove, effectively a large banner showing you how many points we have and what happened as a result of it and I know that's a large celebration within our factory so I look forward to seeing that myself in a few days time.

"For us, (it's a) brilliant result but it is just the beginning of our journey, we need to build in this momentum. (There are) many more races to come in this season. We have a lot of performance in the pipeline and our job is to deliver that as quickly as possible.

At the start of the Monaco race, the field was split into two halves as far as the starting compound was concerned. Half of the grid elected to start on the hards, trying to extend the first stint and hope for a safety car intervention in the right window.

By contrast, Albon was one of the drivers to start the 78-lap race on the medium compound. Expanding on Williams' choice, Vowles added: "The plan to start on medium is really something that we decide post qualifying, you've got to see where you qualify who's around you and then do a lot of statistical modelling that understands what other teams will try to do.

"We went through the last 20 years of statistics from Monaco and found two patterns. One is the probability of safety car at the beginning of the race is the highest against any other laps which sort of makes sense, it's where you have the largest traffic density, the second area was around lap 25, which again makes sense it's where the first stop lap traditionally takes place.

"Fundamentally what the medium enabled you to do is to do the shorter first stint and maximize those early safety cars so.

Weight issue

Williams have already acknowledged that their car, the FW46 is overweight which has contributed to the lack of pace in the opening part of the season.

Vowles said that as the additional weight around Monaco is less of a punishment, the deficit was halved in Monaco which was a huge boost for the FW46's performance last weekend.

"There are a few things I've been very open about the fact that car is overweight. The effect of weight is quite different at some tracks, you can even be up to four tenths per ten kilos, but in Monaco you're more around two tenths per ten kilos, so half of what you see normally.

"So when a car's overweight that effect, that penalty gets almost half there, and that means we had the ability to move forward relative to the field.

"We've been working incredibly hard across the last 12 months, making a car that has a good balance across all circuits, balanced in low, medium and high speed corners, and a good foundation that the drivers can exploit and trust.

"All of those is what you need to be quick in Monaco, you have to be able to trust the car, know that you can push it to the limit, understand what the balance is going to do predict, what the car's going to do that rewards you."

Vowles refused to say that the first point-scoring result will be a turning point for Williams, but he stressed that the encouraging result and performance is a morale boost for the Grove-based outfit. He also conceded that the British outfit is planning to introduce a raft of upgrades in the coming races that could help the team in the rest of the season.

"There are just some elements of the car including the overweight where we haven't quite delivered as we need to, but answering that question, I strongly believe in momentum. I believe that you need a result like this to make sure everyone's heads are lifted, believe in the journey that we're on.

"There's plenty of reason to be optimistic we have huge amounts of performance to come and it's a long season. We're only just at the beginning of it, what we need to do now is build on what we have to make sure we understand at the factory what we did wrong in the circumstance.

"We didn't get everything right this weekend nor did we across the first few races, but we understand what we can improve going forward. We've got Canada where there's more performance coming again and across the next six rounds there's plenty to look forward to so keep that positive momentum going make sure we're delivering performance of the track.

"I think one result doesn't define a turnaround, for me one result though does give you a good set of foundations to work from I think you're going to see us go up and down across the next few races as we add performance to the car but definitely what we have is a good starting point," concluded Vowles.