Williams say the efforts to repair Alexander Albon’s car for next week’s Japanese Grand Prix will not prevent them bringing minor upgrades to the race.

Only one FW26 started the Australian Grand Prix after Albon crashed heavily at turn seven during the opening practice session. He took over the car of team mate Logan Sargeant, who missed the race as a result.

Team principal James Vowles said the damaged FW46 was returned to their base as quickly as possible in order to repair it in time for transportation to Suzuka.

“I’m confident we’ll be able to fix the chassis,” he said in a video published by the team. “We put measures in place to make sure the chassis was back here very early on Monday morning.

“It arrived around 2am or so and since then there was already crews inside the building working on that, stripping it down and doing repairs. We’re in a good place for having the chassis back early enough for Suzuka.”

The team at the track ensured those back at the factory were ready to begin the repair work immediately, said Vowles. “A lot of the work was done back in Melbourne. There was photographs and techniques called NDT, which is non-destructive testing, there’s various ones you can do that [which] allows us to fully understand how big the damage is and what we have to do.

“That preparation was key. What it meant was already at 2am on Monday, work could start. It wasn’t then a reflection on what was happening, it was more ‘this is what we’re doing and this is how we execute it’. So in Suzuka we’ll have two cars without too many issues.”

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Vowles admitted the crash meant the team still won’t have a spare car available in Japan.

“The original plan for the season start was to have three chassis, as you would expect, at round one,” he explained. “That gently slipped towards round three as items became more and more delayed. Since then, and especially with the work that we’re doing now on chassis number two, that was again going to be a small amount of delay.”

However he expects it won’t delay work on coming upgrades for the FW46, some of which will arrive in Japan next week.

“There’s no doubt an accident like the one Alex had in Melbourne will cost you,” he said. “It’s an amount of time that we hadn’t expected to be working on an item, in this case on the chassis, and it takes workload out of the system.

“The upgrades that we have in the pipeline for Japan will still appear. So that’s the positive news. They’re small items but every single one will contribute towards the bigger performance picture.

“There might be items down the line that are slightly impacted, but the team at the moment is doing a really good job trying to absorb the additional workload without impacting on the down-the-line upgrades. So there’ll be items appearing around about round six or so, and a few other items beyond that as well.”

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