The major upgrade Williams will introduce at the British Grand Prix moves its car concept in “the direction of Red Bull” in terms of its sidepod design, according to Alex Albon.
Albon will be the only Williams driver to run the substantial upgrade, which includes the floor, sidepods and other bodywork, at Silverstone. Provided it performs broadly as expected in Friday practice, he is likely to carry it through to the rest of the weekend.
Team-mate Nicholas Latifi will drive the old-specification Williams, partly because of a limited parts supply but also to provide a back-to-back comparison.
“It will look more towards what the rest of the grid looks like,” said Albon.
“As you’ve seen, everyone’s been going towards a certain concept or theme. As we know, everyone started a bit different, and it’s either the Ferrari concept or the Red Bull concept that seems to be adopted.
“Our one looks more like the Red Bull car, but I wouldn’t call it like-for-like. It’s the direction that we’ve headed into.”
When asked by The Race if he was referring to the sidepod concept specifically, Albon confirmed that was the case.
He added: “This is a big update. There aren’t many things on the car that had the same part as two weeks ago, so it is pretty big.”
There have been reports that the upgrade could be worth as much as a second a lap, although the team has not made such a claim publicly.
Albon is confident there will be a substantial gain, but wouldn’t put numbers on it and downplayed the one-second suggestion.
“That would be a very good update,” he said, laughing, when asked by The Race if such a big gain is possible.
“It’s hard to say what we’ll do. The second is very, very… if we took that we would be very, very happy.
“Truthfully speaking, until we drive the car, we won’t really know.
“What you’ll see, especially on Friday, is us trying to figure out how to deal with the car and see what we can do in terms of ride height windows and balance tuning.
“We might end up on Friday with a very different car, and it will take a bit of time to get used to – maybe not even this weekend, it might take a bit more than that.
“There’s no numbers on it. I think it would be silly to do that, but we obviously are hoping for a good improvement. The whole team and myself, we are itching to get out there.”
The fact parts are limited means that Williams will be set back if it sustains too much damage.
Albon said he would initially be “steady” with the car while the team builds understanding.
“With one car, it’s going to be tricky anyway,” said Albon.
“I’m not going to be pushing flat out in Turn 9 [Copse] on the first lap, that’s for sure. We’ll be make sure to be steady on it.”
Williams has had, on average, the slowest car this season and has only scored points twice thanks to Albon’s ninth place in Miami and 10th in Australia.
And while Albon wouldn’t put a laptime gain on the upgrade, he does hope it will allow Williams to re-emerge as a more consistent Q2 threat and make it a factor in the midfield battle.
Making a gain is particularly important for Williams given early-season struggler Aston Martin has taken a big step forward since introducing its major upgrade at last month’s Spanish Grand Prix.
“In terms of positioning, obviously we want to be fighting more into Q2, more into the midfield, more into the points,” said Albon. “A very good weekend for us right now, when we put it all together, is at the very bottom of the points slash P11, P12.
“Realistically speaking, on paper, we are not quick enough. We know that and there was a little bit of a gap even to the ninth-fastest car. So especially with the Astons making the step that they’ve done, it left us behind a little bit.
“And if we can get back into that group, there’s always a different car getting into Q3 in that midfield pack. And, of course, if we can have opportunities where we can fight in their positions, that’s really what we need.”