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There's No Place Like Home: Williams Racing celebrates with fans at British Grand Prix

SILVERSTONE, England — For the first time ever, three British drivers (on British teams!) will start at the front of the grid in the Formula 1 British Grand Prix: George Russell (P1) and Lewis Hamilton (P2) of Mercedes and Lando Norris (P3) of McLaren. They are giving two-time defending drivers champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing a battle in front of their home fans. But Williams Racing is another hometown team that is making a splash this weekend.

On a rainy Saturday, Alex Albon and his teammate, Logan Sargeant, finished with their best team qualifying result of the season. Albon will start P9 and Sargeant will be P12, his best position of the 2024 campaign. The British Grand Prix serves as a home race for Albon, who is Thai and British, and Silverstone holds significance for Sargeant as well. He became the first American to win an F2 race when he did so at the track in 2022.

Williams celebrated its home race over the weekend in multiple ways. On Tuesday, the team unveiled its Silverstone special edition livery featuring the Union Jack on the back of the FW46 along with the names of all 1,005 employees. The team has battled adversity with only two points so far this season — both from Albon. Among the difficulties is when Sargeant sat out of the Australian Grand Prix. Albon drove his teammate's car after crashing his own beyond repair in practice.

Ahead of the British Grand Prix, the drivers expressed their gratitude for the team's support.

"Thank you to all the hard work that you do to get this car on the circuit. It's a real honor to be able to drive with your name beside me," Albon said in a promotional video for the livery, "and look forward to hopefully getting some success this weekend and for the future."

"It hasn't been the easiest so far, but your dedication and resilience have been nothing short of inspiring," Sargeant added. "Your commitment and passion make the difference and I couldn't be prouder to be part of this team."

An F1 car drives on track.
Alex Albon drives in Williams Racing's special livery for the 2024 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Credit: Williams Racing

While the track grounds throughout the weekend were dotted mostly with fans sporting McLaren's papaya orange and Mercedes' stark black team colors, a handful of Williams fans were happy to show their commitment.

Julian Grayland wore a blue and white Williams jacket. He fell in love with the team in the late 1970s when he saw a Williams car at Brands Hatch Circuit, where the British Grand Prix has been held in the past. He said part of Williams' allure is the fact that it's remained close-knit since its establishment in 1977. Frank Williams founded the team and led it to nine constructors titles with the help of legendary names like Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell. Williams, who passed away in 2021, gave control to his daughter, Claire, in 2013 and she became Deputy Team Principal. She sold the team in 2020 to New York-based private investment firm Dorilton Capital.

"They’ve got such a wonderful history for a private company that never had the real backing of a big organization," Grayland told Kick The Concrete at Silverstone after qualifying on Saturday. "It’s always been private run by Frank and then his daughter. Unfortunately, they haven’t had the investment of some of the bigger teams and therefore they’ve lacked technology on some of the development of the car. But hopefully, with the new ownership and new management system, they’ve come back to their winning ways again."

Williams also showed their appreciation to fans by hosting an installment of its Fan Zone at London's famous Piccadilly Circus. The team had two legendary cars on display — the FW07B, which Alan Jones used to win the 1980 drivers championship, and the FW16B, which captured the 1994 constructors championship with Hill losing the drivers championship to Michael Schumacher — by a point. The fan zone also had guest appearances from Albon and Sargeant, their heritage merchandise collection for sale and activations hosted by their sponsors, including a dump truck simulator hosted by Komatsu and a pull-up bar competition hosted by Kraken, who was the title sponsor for the pop-up. The team said it expects around 25,000 people at the event, which started Tuesday and goes through race day.

Back at Silverstone, Sean Salmon became a fan of the team by watching Hill and Mansell as a child. He was hopeful for Williams to perform well on Sunday with the support of its home crowd.

"It means everything to them, doesn’t it? All the home fans support English teams and English drivers," he said. ... "I think they’ll give a good race tomorrow, see what happens."

Team Principal James Vowles said he holds Silverstone "dear to my heart" because of the fan presence.

"There is such a thing as the crowd really lifting you up in moments of need and that's what happens," he said in The Williams Warm-Up.

While Hamilton hopes to win his ninth British Grand Prix to extend his record at the esteemed race, Williams will hold its head high with its own storied history.

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