Column: What on Earth is going on at Williams?

18-02-2019 19:43 | Updated: 18-02-2019 19:47
by Nicolás Quarles van Ufford
Column: What on Earth is going on at Williams?

They're coming off the back of the worst season in the team's rich history, yet Williams couldn't even prepare their car in time for pre-season testing in Barcelona. What's going on in Grove?

Never before had Williams finished in 10th place in the constructors' championship. That both speaks for how good of a team Williams are historically and how bad of a team they have been in 2018. Seven points, that's all they harvested throughout last season. It was their youngest line-up ever with Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, but the duo had a large bag of cash with them, so they got their seats.

This season, the rebuild was supposed to be starting. The Martini era was over, Stroll and Sirotkin had both gone. It was never going to be an overnight transition, but the road to recovery had been taken. Right?

Then, we learned Williams weren't going to participate in the first day of testing in Barcelona. There are eight days of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, and as it's the only occasion for teams to get on-track time in their cars before FP1 in Melbourne, it's absolutely vital to collect as much data in those eight days as you can to take back to the factory.

To miss one of those days completely because your car isn't ready is bizarre. You then have to work overtime in the other seven days to make an attempt to make up for the day you lost, and the nine other teams in the paddock already have an advantage over you in data collection.

For Williams specifically, testing is vital because of their drivers. George Russell is a rookie and Robert Kubica hasn't driven F1 competitively since 2010, they both need to log as many miles as humanly possible to get a grip of the car. Missing a day must be incredibly frustrating for the pair, who are definitely one of the most talented duos on the grid (on paper).

To then say you're missing at least anóther day, well, that's alarming. Something's wrong at Williams. You don't just miss two days of testing, two out of the eight days (I can't stress enough how important a single day of testing is for a team's engineers). Paddy Lowe, the man ultimately in charge of the car, is now on the hot seat. He could lose his job, even though he came over from Mercedes just two years ago.

Andrew Benson of the BBC reported that Williams' 2019 challenger will be two seconds slower than their 2018 car. Remember that that 2018 car wasn't exactly the quickest. It was actually the slowest by a mile. Cars are all slower this season because of the new regulations for the front- and rear wings, but other teams have limited the loss in downforce by improving in other area's. If Benson's report is true, Williams will be even worse this season. I'm not sure the fans and the investors alike can take another blow like that. Heads will roll at some point.

So, no data collection, a two seconds slower car and two wildly inexperienced drivers who can't get mileage with the FW42. If this is Williams' gameplan to get back to the top of the grid, I'm not so sure it is the most effective one.

Oh, and their car looks like a tube of toothpaste. There, I said it.

Read more about: Williams Formula 1

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