Something is seriously wrong as Aston Martin and Williams are early F1 laggards
ANDREJ ISAKOVICGetty Images
- Two goalless Formula 1 teams are scratching their heads more than most after two rounds of 2022: Aston Martin and Williams.
- Aston Martin and Williams, who finished seventh and eighth in the F1 Constructors’ Championship, are scoreless in 2022.
- Aston Martin, to their credit, have raced without their top driver this season as Sebastian Vettel missed races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia after testing positive for COVID-19.
After the first pair of Formula 1 races, eight of the 10 teams are on the board with points.
And, encouragingly, no team appears to be in the predicament some teams have faced – most recently Haas F1 Team in 2021 – of being in the creek without a paddle. Neither team seems hopelessly out of rhythm.
Still, there are two scoreless teams scratching their heads more than most after two rounds of 2022: Aston Martin and Williams.
For Aston Martin, the start of the campaign was particularly dark.
The team was without four-time champion Sebastian Vettel for the first pair of events after returning a positive COVID test. He should return for Australia, but will have to catch up with his rivals.
Although there was a Vettel-shaped hole in the Bahrain and Saudi Arabia squad, he wasn’t exactly the missing piece of the puzzle. The AMR22 was behind and neither Lance Stroll nor substitute Nico Hulkenberg found a way into the points. Billionaire team owner Lawrence Stroll stood between his cars in rows 9 and 10 on the Bahrain pre-race grid, looking as worried as one would expect.
“The car is not where we want it to be,” Aston Martin’s new team principal Mike Krack said during preparation in Saudi Arabia. “Performance is not enough. So we’ve been trying to make some upgrades, we’re trying to be pretty aggressive in development in the coming weeks and months to catch up because we have to do a lot of catching up, to get to where we want to be. So, yes, it is a challenge that we must meet. But we will bring parts for each race.
Aston Martin again left Saudi Arabia empty-handed and a dejected Lance Stroll – never the most communicative or gregarious of racers – joked: “I think we have to keep working for the next few races.”
Hulkenberg joked that as a “rusty old man” he was happy to just finish, but it was another day where the AMR22 was basically too slow.
Aston Martin has big ambitions for its Formula 1 project, aiming to challenge for the championships within five years, and there are big plans at its Silverstone base. But the beginning of the sport’s new era was grim for the green team.
Williams has more modest short-to-medium term ambitions, but he’s also had a tough start to the season.
In Bahrain, Williams was among the latecomers, but the fact that Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi were pleasantly surprised by the performance speaks volumes about their expectations heading into the weekend. In Saudi Arabia, Albon and Latifi both finished the weekend leaving their mechanics for repairs.
Albon tried to grab Stroll’s trail position late but found his way blocked by the
Canadian, causing a collision between the two cars. Not only that, but the stewards have found Albon guilty, and he will start the Australian Grand Prix three places behind where he qualifies, meaning his weekend is already in jeopardy before he even thinks about the day flight to Melbourne.
“It’s tricky,” Albon said of Williams’ FW44. “When it’s in the window it’s okay, it’s even a good car to drive. We’ve had moments of that so far, even at the end of the race we were pretty quick, that’s just to try to be more consistent and predictable really.
On the other hand, his teammate Latifi had a horror show. Latifi spun into the barriers early in qualifying and was alone at the back of the race when he hit the wall after just 14 laps.
“The back just let go, it’s unpredictable,” Latifi said. “That’s what we’ve found with this car so far, it’s very unpredictable, the balance is everywhere, there’s no secret in that. But as a driver, it’s my job to try to make the most of it and drive it in. Twice I put it in the wall and not what I expect from myself.
Latifi admitted Williams had “not started where we hoped to be” in 2022 but was particularly on the back foot.
“I have a lot of trouble with the balance of the car,” said Latifi. “It’s one thing to have the pace that we’re at, without overall support, it’s another to know where you are and then, in terms of balance, that’s all the pace. It’s where I am.
It would be a huge surprise if Aston Martin or Williams went the whole season without picking up any points, but at this early stage they are the two teams that look least likely to score the top 10.
Ranking of F1 constructors
- Ferrari 78
- mercedes 38
- Red Bull 37
- Alpine 16
- Haas 12
- Alfa Romeo 9
- Alpha Tauri 8
- McLaren 6
- Aston Martin 0
- William 0
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