Williams team principal James Vowles says he has full faith in Logan Sargeant despite giving his car to Alex Albon at the Australian Grand Prix, but cannot guarantee the team will have the second chassis repaired in time for the next race in Suzuka.

Albon crashed in Friday practice in Melbourne and damaged his chassis to the point it couldn’t be repaired at the track, and is returning to the UK. Unusually at this point in the season, Williams does not yet have a spare chassis manufactured, so the decision was taken to give Sargeant’s car to Albon and withdraw the American from the rest of the race weekend. However, Vowles insists it doesn’t show a lack of faith in Sargeant.

“No, I don’t think that’s the case,” Vowles said. “The fact I re-signed him shows you I have faith in him. This year I think you’ve seen he’s been closer to Alex than before.

“However, I have one car, and just one car. There are five very fast teams taking up those top ten positions and there’s no points apart from if you’re in the top ten. There’s one point separating the bottom five teams at the moment, so every point will make a difference between now and the end of the year.

“In that regard, you therefore put your money on the driver who this year has been slightly ahead of the other one, which is Alex. So I’ve reset everything. Taken a view from Bahrain, taken a view from Saudi and taken a view from here which of the two drivers was more likely to score a point.”

Explaining how Williams ended up without a spare chassis even at the third round of the season, Vowles admits it’s due to the changes he is trying to implement in the team.

“When I started in February last year, the plan was to have three chassis at round one. As we went through large changes in organization, adding performance and technology changes on the back end and processes, we started to push out fundamentally certain elements of things.

“There’s a finite amount of resources and, as we were going through an inefficient structure and making transformation at the same time, we started to cause problems. Those problems, before, could have translated to adding metal components or adding last year’s rear wings.

“In this particular case, the third chassis started to get delayed and delayed and delayed, and I think one of the things were were transparent about both in Bahrain but also on the BBC podcast that we did, we were very late with these cars — very, very late. We pushed everything to the absolute limit.

“The fallout of that is we didn’t have a spare chassis. Even then it was intended to be coming here at round three, but it got delayed and delayed again as other items got pushed back as a result.

“Without doubt — if we go back to root cause — it’s the fact that we’ve added significant processes. We’ve completely changed how we make a chassis. I think I described it the other week in Bahrain that there’s almost 10 times the amount of parts in a chassis compared to last year.

“That’s a level of complexity that takes an organization to a new level. But the ramifications aren’t the third chassis is any more difficult to make. They’ve already made — we’ve already made — two. It’s more that the knock-on effect from all the work that we’ve done that pushed everything very late has pushed everything else very late.”

When pushed on if he could guarantee that Williams would have the second chassis repaired in time for the Japanese Grand Prix in two weeks’ time — with the car set to return to the UK on Monday and the third chassis further delayed — Vowles admits there remains an element of uncertainty.

“Until the chassis is back in the UK and they’ve properly inspected it from not just photos that we have, and NDT (non-destructive testing) that we have here, but properly get into it, no-one can give you 100 certitude.

“What I can tell you is based on the evidence that we have so far and the work that’s completed overnight, everything looks completely feasible. I’ve seen chassis in worse states come back from this. 100 percent is a difficult number to give you, and as a statistics man I wouldn’t say 100 percent, but I would say there is a very high probability it will all be fine.”