It is important to remember that lap times during Formula 1 pre-season testing are to be taken with a massive grain of salt. Teams are running different programs, trying different things with the car, using different fuel loads and tyre compounds, and the lack of uniformity makes comparing lap times an inexact science.
But with pre-season testing in Bahrain now halfway complete, there should be some smiles around the Williams Racing garage.
Rookie driver Logan Sargeant was behind the wheel for the team during Friday’s morning session and posted a lap time of 1:32.549, just 0.063 seconds off the best time of the morning session, turned in by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr.
We're officially half-way through #F1Testing— Formula 1 (@F1) February 24, 2023
Here's our running order from our early session on Day 2 #F1 pic.twitter.com/DhkD8TyC4R
As you can see, Fernando Alonso from Aston Martin turned in the third-best time of the morning session, following up on his strong Thursday afternoon session. No word on whether Alonso will celebrate with another griddy, however.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu and Kevin Magnussen from Haas rounded out the top five from the morning.
With testing halfway complete, Williams has now turned in three strong sessions. Both Sargeant and teammate Alex Albon placed in the top ten in Thursday’s classification:
DAY 1 TESTING CLASSIFICATION— Formula 1 (@F1) February 23, 2023
Max Verstappen and Red Bull on fire
And, an impressive time from Fernando Alonso in the @AstonMartinF1 car, with the Ferraris close behind #F1 #F1Testing pic.twitter.com/uSYNhWfWLY
Again, the lap times are to be taken with a grain of salt, but Williams should also be pleased with the reliability and work rate through the first three sessions. Albon completed 74 laps on Thursday, with Sargeant completing 75. The rookie put another 73 laps on the board Friday morning, behind only AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
Sargeant is driving the afternoon session as well. During the early portion of the afternoon session, Albon joined the coverage on F1TV and while he was rather coy about the start for Williams — noting that teams are running different programs and using different fuel loads — he did concede that “we’re not in a bad place,” and talked about the “progress” the team had made over the off-season.
Albon also called the start “very smooth,” noting that the team had not endured any “setbacks” to this point, which is “a bit of a rarity in our sport.”
Certainly there is a lot more testing to be completed, and again, everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt. But as Williams looks to rebound after last year’s tenth-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship, this has to be the kind of start to the 2023 campaign they were looking for.