Nico Hulkenberg has conceded that Williams will be tough to catch before the end of the 2023 Formula 1 season unless Haas “find something magic” with its car.
Haas’ campaign has been stymied by a VF-23 car that continuously degrades the tyres too quickly, which has seen it squander a multitude of promising qualifying positions.
While that has resulted in the American outfit failing to add to its tally across the past five rounds, Williams has scored 10 points in the two races since the summer break to extend its advantage over Haas to 10 points.
Hulkenberg believes that Williams will remain uncatchable for seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship unless Haas can unlock more pace in the coming rounds.
“To be honest, Williams, they look like they’re gone,” Hulkenberg lamented after another tough outing at the Italian Grand Prix.
“They and McLaren obviously made huge progress this year and I don’t see how we can turn this around unless we find something really magic.
“On the low-downforce package, once the tyre has gone through the fresh kind of tyre life, it’s just one direction and that’s backwards.
“We’re just eating the tyre, the balance is poor, we’re sliding a lot more than other cars. Can’t keep the pace up, using more tyre. So, it was one of the toughest and worst races of the season.”
Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo is also in the hunt for seventh in the standings, with the Italian marque only a solitary point behind Haas.
Valtteri Bottas ended the team’s five-race wait for a point at Monza and Alfa Romeo will be boosted by the addition of an upgrade package in Singapore this weekend.
The Finn acknowledges that Alfa Romeo’s aspirations of catching Williams will depend on the lap time improvement delivered by the latest updates to its C43 package.
“The last two racetracks [required] very different levels of downforce but still they’ve clearly had an edge,” Bottas admitted. “It’s a bit worrying, but we’ve got an upgrade for Singapore.
“If that gets us closer, then [seventh] is still possible. But if not, then it’s going to be tricky.”
Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW45. 02.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Qualifying Day.
Williams entered the Italian GP weekend expecting its slippery FW45 charger to thrive on the multitude of straights that predominantly make up the Monza circuit.
But a week earlier, the Grove squad were the surprise package at Zandvoort, with Albon qualifying and finishing inside the top 10 on a high-downforce circuit configuration.
However, Albon, who matched his season-best result with seventh in Italy, insists that Williams still anticipates the upcoming rounds to be challenging, despite its encouraging display in the Netherlands.
Reflecting on the importance of his strong points haul at Monza, Albon said: “We need to use these races, these weekends to try and pull that gap from that kind of constructors’ championship point of view.
“Because realistically, apart from here and Las Vegas, that’s kind of it. So we’ve got to keep pushing on and try and get these points.
“I worry about tracks like Brazil, these kinds of races. But I hope… we’re in a better place now.
“We needed that [result] because in the next few races we’re not really going to stand a chance, until Vegas. Not to say that we’re going to take our foot off the pedal, but a good points finish here was what we needed.”
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