Dave Robson, the Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams Racing, says the team are expecting the unexpected this weekend as Formula 1 races in Saudi Arabia for the second time in four months.
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit hosted the penultimate round of the 2021 season last December but is the venue for round two of the 2022 campaign, and the track is a very different one to the Bahrain International Circuit that hosted the opening race just last weekend.
As a result of this, Robson is expecting some challenges to present themselves to the team that they were not expecting, but he hopes to see a competitive weekend for the FW44 and for his drivers Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi.
“The second race of the year is an opportunity to see the 2022 cars at a very different type of track,” said Robson. “The nature of the corners and the long straights in Jeddah will introduce some new challenges for the FW44 and whilst we have done a lot of preparation, it is likely that we will encounter something unexpected.
“This is simply the nature of taking a whole new car to such diverse tracks early in the season. We are looking forward to the challenge and to seeing how the new generation of cars tackle this high-speed street circuit.”
One of Robson’s drivers, Albon, will taste the Jeddah track for the first time this weekend, and he knows the Thai driver will need time to get up to speed and find confidence in the car.
“This is Alex’s first trip to Jeddah and so he will need some time to understand the track and to gain confidence in the car and tyres,” he said.
Robson says they are expecting a busy weekend as they learn how the new-for-2022 eighteen-inch Pirelli tyres will work around the Saudi Arabian track, while they are also expecting to suffer with porposing around the higher speed sections, something they will need to look into preventing.
“Pirelli have brought tyres from the middle of their compound range and adapting the car setup to suit the tyre behaviour will be one of our major tasks on Friday, alongside managing any porpoising that may be induced by the high car speeds,” Robson added.
“There will be a lot to get through on Friday and we are keen to get the cars back on track and get that work started.”