Formula 1: Is 2023 the year Williams make the jump?

Alex Albon, Williams, Formula 1 (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Alex Albon, Williams, Formula 1 (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) /

Formula 1’s perennial loser, Williams Racing, have scored just 39 points in the past five seasons. Is this the year they break through into the midfield?

It has been a rough few years for Williams, and a significant fall from grace for one of the most storied teams in Formula 1.

Since finishing fifth in the constructor standings in 2017, the British team have put up a string of disappointing results. In the past five years, they have finished dead last four times, scoring a pitiful 39 points during that span.

It is no secret that Williams have faced a dismal half-decade. But with a new team principal and a rookie American teammate to Alex Albon, things could be on the up and up for the nine-time champions.

Replacing departing team principal Jost Capito is James Vowles, the former strategy chief of Mercedes. Vowles was a part of the team for 21 years, overseeing some of the most dominant performances in Formula 1 history.

Vowles now brings his experience with one of the big three Formula 1 teams to a Williams group in dire need of a turnaround.

Another big change that Williams eagerly await is the Formula 1 debut of Logan Sargeant, the first American driver to enter a race since Alexander Rossi in 2015.

The 22-year-old had an impressive season in Formula 2 last year, finishing fourth in the standings. Sargeant is set to replace Nicholas Latifi, who scored just two points last year and struggled mightily during his tenure in Formula 1.

While Williams failed to make an impact last season, there were still glimpses of hope for the future, particularly from Albon. The former Red Bull driver showed his experience in a few instances last year, fending off challengers to score points for the team.

Former reserve driver Nyck de Vries also took points in his only race of the season last year, fending off challengers to finish ninth in Monza. Such results offered a glimpse of what could be for Williams in the near future.

The recent reveal of the livery for the 2023 season brings another layer of intrigue for what next season has in store. Along with a new partnership with Gulf, the FW45 offers improvements to the aerodynamic flow of the car, with a raised floorbed and changes to the sidepods.

Williams hope to swipe places against bottom-tier rivals such as Haas and AlphaTauri, two other teams with new drivers for the upcoming season. In 2022, Haas finished 27 points ahead of last place, while AlphaTauri finished two points clear of Haas.

The newly improved Williams car is set to hit the track for testing on Thursday, February 23, which is when the world will first get a glimpse of the revamped team. It will also be the first time in eight years Americans will have their own driver to root for.

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There are several things for Williams fans to be cautiously optimistic about, and time will tell whether or not they make a jump from the bottom of the table to somewhere in the middle.