Former world champions Williams had their worst ever season in 2018 finishing 10th and last in the constructor’s championship and with consistently the slowest car on the grid but can this change in 2019?
Williams can only improve from where they finished last season but they have already had a troubled start to the season. Getting your car ready for winter testing is always a challenge for every team.
Williams planned on running a shakedown for their car on the Saturday prior to the first week of testing but the car wasn’t ready in time, it also transpired that the car would not be ready for the first 2 days of winter testing. With testing being only 8 days long, losing 2 days is a massive hit, especially when you’re trying to recover after a bad season.
The 2018 car was one of Williams’ worst yet, scoring just seven points across two races, with ex-Mercedes man Paddy Lowe in charge of the technical department, there should be no reason for Williams to build a bad car.
Williams have gone from fighting for podiums to brining up the rear of the grid in just a couple of seasons, 2019 has to be a big year if they want to fight towards the front of the midfield again.
The Williams has looked the least convincing during pre-season testing and is expected to once again bring up the rear of the pack in 2019 but according to Paddy Lowe, the feedback from their driver Robert Kubica gives them some optimism that they’re turning a corner.
“Robert has driven the old car around here quite a lot last year and has some very encouraging comments on the qualities of the car.” Said Lowe.
“He feels that we’ve made a huge step forwards in terms of the platform.”
“A car that is far more drive-able, a car that you can work with from a driving point of view, you can control your management of tyre, you can control the balance and pace, was definitely not a description we could have given about last year’s car.”
There is huge pressure on Paddy Lowe’s shoulders this season as Williams’ cannot afford to finish 10th in the constructors consistently. The car will need continuous upgrades throughout the season if it wishes to mix it with other teams and regularly fight for the points.
Williams also have new sponsors onboard, following the departure of title sponsor Martini, Williams now have a new title sponsor in mobile phone startup ROKiT as well as new sponsor Orlen.
2019 also sees an all-new driver line-up with current Formula 2 champion George Russell and F1 returnee Robert Kubica who makes his comeback after injury in 2011, both with little experience racing in the current Formula One cars but both equally as exciting.
George Russell begins his first of a two-year deal with Williams after impressing in his debut Formula 2 season where he won the championship.
George’s mature and calm manner are one of his key strengths, during his F2 campaign he never looked flustered, rarely made an error and had the speed to clinch the title in a very competitive season. His F2 campaign can only be compared to the level that now Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc delivered in his title-winning season and is one of the most exciting young talents around.
There is not real pressure on George this season, it will all be about finding his feet in Formula One, learning as much as he can from his teammate on the feedback side and try to build a team around him.
Robert Kubica makes his comeback after 8 years when he suffered a rally crash resulting in part of his arm being amputated. Despite his accident, Robert has found his way back onto the grid and has a point to prove.
The driver who was once tipped as a future world champion will find the top ten a struggle this season, the Williams car looks like the least competitive out there and with Robert not being able to put the laps in due to part limitations in testing it will be an uphill struggle initially for the Pol.
“Coming back after eight years, probably I know 20 percent of the things that I should know before going to Australia.” Kubica said, commenting on the lack of running in testing.
“The rest is unknown. I haven’t done longer than 15 laps long run.”
“There is a lot of question marks. But that’s the reality, we cannot change it.”
Williams look set for another tough season but if the team have a better understanding of the car and can out-develop others throughout the season they can at least end 2019 in a much better space.
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