Alex Albon has said he expects his new Williams team-mate Logan Sargeant to keep him on his toes as the 2023 Formula 1 season progresses.
Sargeant replaced Nicholas Latifi at the Grove outfit over the winter after successfully attaining an FIA Super License late year by finishing fourth in the Formula 2 championship.
America’s first full-time F1 driver since 2007 strung together a quietly solid debut weekend, qualifying within 0.2s of Albon in Q1 and then only being classified nine seconds down in the race.
While Albon comfortably had the measure of Latifi throughout last season, the ex-Red Bull driver is anticipating a sterner challenge from Sargeant, having also tracked his progress in the lower categories.
“Very good, he’s naturally quick,” Albon disclosed to SpeedCity Broadcasting.
“I’ve seen it from last year in his time in F2 — his pole positions and just his general pace — so to me it was to be expected but obviously to everyone else maybe it wasn’t seen.
“It’s great because also we’re fighting the same things, we’re giving the same comments. Of course, he doesn’t have the experience of myself, but he has the right language and the right attitude.
“I’m sure it’s the start of a good relationship and he definitely keeps me on my toes,” he added.
After being made to rue front wing damage in qualifying that he believed cost him a place in Q3, Albon eventually crossed the line in 10th place, securing Williams’ best result at a first race since 2017.
But the Thai racer had to be reassured he remained inside the points late on during Sunday’s action when he lost a place to the charging Pierre Gasly in a faster Alpine car.
“I was really disappointed when I lost a position to Pierre — I thought I was already in 10th and then thought I was 11th and thought, ‘Oh God, I’ve let the team down here’ but then they said, ‘Oh you’re in 10th now’ and it was a bit of rejuvenated energy to hold off Yuki [Tsunoda],” he recounted.
Having anticipated Williams bringing up the rear of the F1 field at the start of the season, Albon was impressed by the manner the team executed the whole Bahrain weekend to score a solitary point.
“It was really good. When you look at our strategic analysis/comparison/pace coming into this weekend, we were 10th quickest, there’s no secret about that. We did a great job to make it work, so I’m pleasantly surprised, truthfully.
“We’ve still got work to do. We know our limitations, we know there’s short-term progress we can do, so to still score points… Aston [Martin] of course have done an amazing job — they’re on the podium, that grabs the headlines — but, if you look at our improvement, we are second best.
“We’ve done a mega job from last year and here we are. We’re in a better fighting position. We still need a couple more tenths to be in the midfield, but I’m super happy.”
Under the guidance of ex-Mercedes keyman James Vowles as its latest team boss, Williams will be aiming to make progress upon the wretched season it endured last year.
While it had showcased signs of a resurgence in 2021 by climbing off the foot of the table for the first time in four years, the British side slumped back to the bottom of the order in 2022.
The former World Champions have failed to win a race since Pastor Maldonado at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2012, while its last title success came courtesy of Jacques Villeneuve in 1996.