Alexander Albon has conceded that the Williams Formula 1 squad is likely to start the 2023 season as the slowest team in the pecking order.
The Thai-British driver also named the teams that he believes are Williams’ direct rivals, which include McLaren.
Williams has been rooted to the rear of the F1 field across the last several seasons and has implemented change for the 2023 campaign by signing James Vowles as Team Principal.
Albon has also been joined at the team by rookie Logan Sargeant, but it is yet to name a technical director following the departure of FX Demaison.
Speaking ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Albon conceded that point finishes will once again be difficult to come by for Williams this year.
“Firstly I’m possibly a little bit more pessimistic than optimistic,” he said. “At least from the initial look at testing we are the 10th quickest team.
“I know I’ve said this last year but it’s really about how we go through the year.
“Are we understanding the car better? We are obviously still without a technical director, but we need to see progress in the areas we do feel limited driving-wise.
“If we do see progress, we’re clearly heading in the right direction. We’ve already done a step, but we need to continue and see more of that.
“It’s clear with the wind in testing and depending on the angle of the wind, it was very tricky for us. A couple of corners, I’ve said it to you before, the low-speed corners [we are struggling].
“If we can end the season better than we started, which we did last year, I’ll be happy.
“Of course, taking the moments we can, Monza and Spa, these type of circuits, will continue, I believe, to be quite good for us. We just want to be quicker and have the chance more often.
“We definitely have made a better car but in terms of pace, everyone has. It’s all relative. When I look at it, we’re going to really have to fight for a chance of points.
“It’s not going to be an easy one, something has to happen for that to happen.”
McLaren endured a troubled pre-season testing, logging the fewest laps of any team as various issues hit during the three days.
It also confirmed that it has missed development goals with its MCL60 car and is expected to start the campaign off the pace of the front-running midfield teams.
Albon believes that the Woking-based squad, as well as AlphaTauri, will be one of its direct rivals.
“When I look at testing, we’ve been very reliable, which is a very good positive to have,” Albon commented.
“Being the first race of the year, there is a bit of reliability problems and hopefully we can take advantage of that.
“But in terms of pure pace, I think there’s a lot of teams out there that have made big steps – Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, I’m sure the Alpine will be good.
“Around us, our direct rivals [are] AlphaTauri and McLaren. I still think we’re a little bit behind, but let’s see.”
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