With the team not having built up a spare chassis, Albon’s FP1 shunt last time out at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit meant Williams was forced to enter only one car from Saturday onwards while the damaged FW46 was flown back to the UK for initial investigation and repairs.

To maximise its chances of scoring points in the ultra-competitive midfield, Williams withdrew Sargeant from the event so it could place Albon in the American’s car.

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While the damaged monocoque has been repaired in time for this weekend’s Suzuka event, Williams does not expect to have a spare tub on-site until Miami in early May.

Sargeant will also remain in the repaired ex-Albon car this weekend, given the time constraints of refitting both chassis to accommodate another driver change.

“It’s the repaired one,” said Sargeant when asked which car he will run this weekend.

“Just because the workload to switch the cars back over would just be far too much for the mechanics. But the chassis repair went better than expected.”

The repair has only added 100 grams. Team principal James Vowles says the chassis damage was to a suspension insert and there was no crack in tub, so a driver is not expected to notice a difference between the two cars.

Reflecting on the initial shunt in Melbourne for Albon, Sargeant said his attention soon turned to how tight Williams was on spare parts.

Alex Albon, Williams Racing FW46

Alex Albon, Williams Racing FW46

Photo by: Williams

He explained: “I don’t think we really, at least I, hadn’t thought about it before that.

“If I’m honest, when I see Alex crash, the first thing that goes through my head is, ‘I know that we’re down on spares’.

“Of course, I was a little bit concerned for where we stood as a team. But it’s one of the hard parts that we’ve had to deal with through the start of this season – not having those big safety nets.

“It’s somewhere that as a team, we’re really trying to develop to be better and get more on top of that early in the season.”

Sargeant confirmed that Williams has not openly discussed how it would handle a similar incident in Japan while it awaits the completion of a spare car.

However, the lack of a standby car will not alter his driving: “It’s, again, a situation that we had to deal with through the first three races.

“We went to Saudi with the same situation. And of course, it’s one of those things that you have to be careful. But at the same time, you can’t be. It’s Formula 1.

“If you’re careful, you’re nowhere. So, it’s really not even a question – you have to be committed, confident and hope nothing goes wrong.”

Sargeant added that he ‘understood the statistics’ behind the decision to bench him and enter Albon in Australia.

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