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Graham Read
Formula 1 Correspondent
9:39 PM 5th February 2024
sports

Williams And Sauber Reveal Their New Cars

 
Today marked the start of the launch season for the Formula 1 teams, with all ten entrants unveiling their latest cars between now and a week on Thursday. Putting to one side last Thursday’s surprise news that Sir Lewis Hamilton has decided to break his Mercedes contract at the end of this season and head to close rivals Ferrari, all twenty drivers who finished the 2023 campaign are set to retain the same race seats for 2024.

The new Williams livery is a tribute to the team’s title-winning history
The new Williams livery is a tribute to the team’s title-winning history
It’s a time of year when all teams try to exude quiet confidence about their forthcoming fortunes as the start of the longest ever F1 season, which will include 24 Grands Prix and six Sprints, gets ever nearer. Some will be proved right, whereas it will soon be clear to others that much work will still be needed to be competitive, and we will only get a first hint of the pecking order in terms of respective pace after the official three-day pre-season test in Bahrain from 21st-23rd February.

Of course, we’ve sometimes witnessed what is known as sandbagging in the past, when a team deliberately hides during testing just how fast its new car really is. Brawn was a classic example of this back in 2009, and the first real display of who is quick and who perhaps isn’t may not be fully revealed until the opening Grand Prix weekend in Bahrain at the beginning of next month.

(L-R) Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant will again line up for Williams
(L-R) Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant will again line up for Williams
Today Williams and the entrant, formerly known as Alfa Romeo, were the first teams to reveal their cars. The Williams event was held at Puma’s flagship store in New York City this morning (afternoon back in the UK) and was so in contrast to the old days when Sir Frank Williams and Sir Patrick Head used to just wheel their new challenger into the pit lane and pull a sheet off it before getting on with the far more serious matter of testing. The striking blue livery includes dominant references on the sidepods to Komatsu, a leading manufacturer of construction, mining, forestry, and industrial heavy equipment, with whom the team has agreed a new multi-year Principal Partnership deal.

Williams had a promising 2023 season following the arrival of new team principal James Vowles from Mercedes, and he has indicated that more improvements are expected in 2024 after the team deliberately stopped development of its 2023 car early to focus work on this year’s challenger. The new car, the FW46, will make its track debut during a pre-season promotional filming day in Bahrain on February 20th.

Sauber’s 2024 challenger will have a bold green and black livery
Sauber’s 2024 challenger will have a bold green and black livery
Today’s launch included the outfit’s retained driver pairing, which comprises of the Thai-British Alex Albon and the American Logan Sargeant. Albon is set to race for Williams for at least one more season, but his stock is rising, and the 27-year-old is a strong contender to replace Hamilton at Mercedes next year.

For the last five seasons, the Sauber team has been known as Alfa Romeo for commercial sponsorship reasons, but that contract has now expired, and, prior to the arrival of Audi in 2026, its name for the next two years is set to be the Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber. Stake is a betting, entertainment, and lifestyle company that first sponsored the team last year, and Kick.com is an Australian streaming platform. If you think that name is questionable, the new title for what used to be AlphaTauri is Visa Cash App RB!

Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu will again drive for Sauber
Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu will again drive for Sauber
The new Sauber is the C44, and the Swiss-based operation opted to hold its glittering launch this evening at London’s Guildhall, where a dazzling new fluorescent green and black livery was debuted. Alfa Romeo had a very disappointing 2023 campaign, finishing only ninth in the Constructors’ Championship and just a single place above the bottom, and so the team is determined to fare better before becoming the fully fledged Audi works entry. Behind the wheel again will be Finland’s experienced Valtteri Bottas and the 24-year-old Chinese pedaller, Zhou Guanyu. The pair will shakedown the C44 during a filming day in Barcelona on Friday.

Next up, we have the launch of the French Alpine team on Wednesday, followed by, yes, Visa Cash App RB one day later.