Sudden improvements: How Williams scored 22 points in the last 4 Grands Prix

23-09-2021 11:30
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Sudden improvements: How Williams scored 22 points in the last 4 Grands Prix

After an unbelievably long drought of points, Williams have now scored in three of the last four races. A sudden upturn in form sees them comfortably ahead of Alfa Romeo and Haas in the World Championship. And both drivers are ahead of all their rivals in the drivers’ championship, with Russell even knocking on the door of Yuki Tsunoda and is within 10 points of Lance Stroll

Although it’s nowhere near the highs that Williams experienced in the 1980s and 1990s, there’s no doubt the above paragraph will bring joy and emotion to Formula 1 fans around the world. And it will bring almost as much pleasure as a World Championship, such were the lows in 2018, 2019 and 2020. 

One of those fans will be Claire Williams, who stepped aside from her role as deputy team principal 12 months ago. Much has changed since the family stepped down, but the history remains unmoved. 

A sudden improvement

The first real fruits of the take over deal are expected to be ripe in time for the 2022 season which features a rule and regulation shake-up. Though we are starting to see some early bloomers that potentially foreshadow what is to come. Either way, it proves the systems they’ve put in place are working. 

Jost Capito is now at the helm. A highly experienced German who has seen it all in motorsport. His knowledge and experience in all different departments is guiding Williams in the right direction. It’s like turning a heavy tanker ship around, and he’s certainly doing that by putting money in the correct places for development, and ensuring the strategy is aligned during race weekends. 

Whether it’s initiated by Capito or one of his team members, but we’ve seen some phenomenal calls from the Williams pit wall in recent weeks. Think back to qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. By reaching Q3 and having nothing to lose, George Russell waited patiently in the garage and kept his intermediate tyres fresh whilst the other eight drivers dried the track. 

When the best track conditions appeared, Williams put Russell on the circuit with his tyres in their best possible condition. The Brit produced a stunning lap to reach the front row of the grid, only missing out on pole position by three-tenths. A stunning qualifying lap that turned directly into a podium because the race never officially got underway. 

In Hungary, Russell and Latifi both managed to avoid a pile-up. And they then managed to benefit from six retirements and a broken Red Bull car to both score points. Sebastian Vettel's disqualification also lifted them up a place. A stroke of luck without doubt, but they've still got to be there when it matters. At the end of the day, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Schumacher and Giovinazzi all had similar chances but didn't succeed. 

 
 
 
 
 
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Updates 

For a while, Simon Roberts took the seat on the pit wall. Before he left the team earlier in the summer, he confirmed upgrades were on the way for the 2021 season. Speaking to F1TV in Azerbaijan, Roberts hinted at what was to come. 

“It’s a balancing act [between 2021 and 2022]. We’ve still got stuff in the pipeline, we are testing parts here and we’ve got parts coming later in the season. We’re working really hard, and hopefully, we’ll get some progress soon," Roberts said. 

Most of those upgrades have been focused on creating downforce and reducing drag. In the early parts of the season, Roberts suggested that as an unindented consequence to that, the car became more sensitive to the wind. Though issues in Baku regarding that had seemingly been solved: “So far, it’s [wind] not been an issue for us this weekend.” 

This shows that Williams had already found some gains, and had more in the pipeline. We suspect these were introduced around the British Grand Prix and the summer break which would correspond with their improved performance over the summer. 

George Russell 

And those upgrades have slotted in perfectly with a driver riding a massive confidence wave. It was only confirmed recently, but there are suspicions that Russell knew, or at least had a very strong incline, weeks before the Mercedes announcement. 

Getting the Mercedes deal for 2022 has filled the Brit with confidence and an aspect of freedom. He has the contract and is currently driving with little pressure. He’s buzzing with the deal. This is allowing him to get the best out of that car. 

Q2 is no longer unknown territory, and there’s half an expectation that Russell will reach Q3. Williams provided Russell with the best strategy in Spa qualifying, but he still had to go out there and produce the lap for P2. 

The side effect of this for Williams is they lose Russell next season. Nicholas Latifi is improving, but perhaps not as quick as the team would like. Having Alex Albon join the team gives them a driver with Formula 1 experience. Despite racing in less than 50 Grands Prix, Albon has driven cars for two different teams, as well as spending the last six months or so on the Red Bull Racing simulator. 

The British-Thai is more than capable of getting good results for Williams, and their upturn in results is fully expected to continue into 2022. 

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