williams wants top to top: alex albon responds

Williams want to return to the absolute top with Sainz: Possible in '26?

16 June at 13:00
  • Ludo van Denderen

It was a nice pitch from James Vowles, Williams' team principal, towards Carlos Sainz. With the Mercedes having a rock-solid power unit, more and more top men joining the British squad and, above all, a sky-high ambition, the Briton hopes to also bring in the Spaniard leaving Ferrari. With drivers of world renown, Williams thus wants to be among the best teams on the F1 grid again. But is that realistic in the relatively short term?

Two points Williams has accumulated this season. For a team that want to compete for podium spots - even wins - in the foreseeable future, that is far too little. Of course, a factor is that the team has only one top driver, Alex Albon, and his colleague Logan Sargeant is also making too many mistakes in '24. Moreover, luck is not always on Williams' side. In the last Grand Prix in Canada, for instance, Albon was on his way to points until Carlos Sainz knocked him off the track.

Williams really making strides

Although it is not immediately visible in the constructors' standings, Williams are definitely moving further into the middle of the pack. Just as all teams are creeping closer together at the moment. Still, until at least '26, no miracles should be expected from Williams. If it is not going to take even longer for Williams to get all the way back.

The early signs are hopeful, though. Friend and foe alike agree that the current Williams are no longer the Williams of say four years ago. With Vowles, there is a powerful leader at the helm, someone who was tried and tested at Mercedes. At the factory, moreover, Williams is replacing outdated processes and equipment, but that takes time. And in Formula 1, you don't actually have time, because that means downtime.

"Yes, it's going to take time," Albon nevertheless says of his team's transition to the top. "I still think we're in a rebuilding phase. And I don't think in 2026 we're going to be all there. Like I said, every team is kind of putting their words and efforts into this 2026 being a reset for everyone.But what I'm hoping is we can have the PU carry us a little bit. But it puts us in a good place. And we can still be building, developing and changing parts of the team. And then by 2027, we can really make bigger steps."

Is Sainz sensitive to Williams' pitch?

No doubt Carlos Sainz has heard it all in talks with Vowles. The Spaniard is reportedly leaning towards a switch to Williams and Audi (currently Sauber) are his second choice. Mercedes' power unit could well be the deciding factor for him in that case. However mediocre the chassis of the German team - Vowles' former employer - is, the power unit always delivers. McLaren, for example, is currently proving that, as Mercedes' customer team.

The McLaren scenario is what Williams has in mind for 2026 and 2027: "This (the new regulations) will definitely spread everyone out again. I think engines will make a big part of this. So you say that maybe to a top team like Mercedes, possibly 2026 we would grow away from them. Have a bigger delta but I'm hoping that Mercedes have a strong engine and battery efficiency."