Nicholas Latifi says Williams Racing are where they expected to be on Friday evening at the Bahrain International Circuit, with the Canadian ending the day nineteenth out of the twenty runners, ahead only of his team-mate Alexander Albon.
Williams struggled with performance during the pre-season test in Bahrain last week, and that has translated into more struggles for the team in the opening round of the 2022 Formula 1 season.
Latifi was an encouraging thirteenth in the opening practice session, but when conditions became more representative of the conditions they are likely to face in Saturday’s Qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Williams slipped to the bottom of the pack.
“We’re where we expected to be after the test last week, but our learning from today is that there are some easy areas we can find some time and try to improve the performance,” said Latifi. “It’s clear we’re not where we want to be and we know the limitations that are holding us back.
“We’re still building confidence with each lap, each session and each new set of tyres and working to understand exactly how the car needs to be set up to be driven fastest.
“That might not be based on knowledge we have from previous years, or experience from my natural driving style, so it’s working out the set-up to extract the most potential, which we’re still working on.”
“The team have a strong direction that we’re pushing for” – Alexander Albon
Team-mate Albon was also aware of the struggles Williams have been having so far in Bahrain, but he knows the team are extremely motivated to improve the car and take them off the bottom of the timesheets.
Albon, who is returning to a Formula 1 race seat in 2022 after sitting out the 2021 season after losing his Red Bull Racing drive last year to Sergio Pérez, ended fifteenth fastest in the afternoon session in Bahrain but was twentieth and last in the evening’s running.
Despite this, he was happy to be back out on track for a competitive session, and he understands the team are working on removing the limiting factors that are preventing the team from unlocking the full potential of the FW44.
“It’s been good to get back out on track today and do some running in conditions that are more representative of those we’ll be racing in,” said Albon.
“I think we’re all aware that the car felt better in Barcelona; historically Bahrain is a track that we struggle with and the wind, sand and heat doesn’t help, but we’re understanding the limitations and adapting our driving style to cope with the challenges.
“The team have a strong direction that we’re pushing for and we’re all very motivated, so I think we’re making progress.”