Williams is one of the most iconic teams on the F1 grid, as a former giant of the sport – dominant throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
But, 2018 was one its worst campaigns of all-time, with the squad netting just seven points and finishing last in the standings.
The root cause, a flawed car, the FW41 – the first to be overseen by new chief technical officer Paddy Lowe, fresh from Mercedes. An aggressive design required to get ahead of its immediate rivals.
SOUNDBITE (English) CLAIRE WILLIAMS,
DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL, WILLIAMS:
“This year is all about Mr [Paddy] Lowe’s car, so we’re really looking forward to seeing how it goes. No pressure, Paddy!”
SOUNDUP (English) JAKE HUMPHREY, F1 COMMENTATOR:
“No pressure. No pressure, Paddy.”
But, a new belt in the wind tunnel threw out cooling calculations, forcing it to compromise its aero package. Making the car “nearly undriveable”.
The result, just three top-ten results with Lance Stroll in Azerbaijan and Italy, rookie Sergey Sirotkin combining at Monza, too, for his only score – and the team’s only double points finish all season.
The Russian, though, arguably shone brighter than Stroll – outperforming his car in Monaco and Singapore and even Brazil, getting through to Q2.
But, these were the small positives to be taken from a dire season… one even its biggest supporters found difficult to swallow.
SOUNDBITE (English) ALAN JONES,
1980 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“I’m just hoping they turn it around, and start coming up a little bit. But to be down the back is just heartbreaking.”
New aero regulations for 2019, Mercedes power, and two exciting talents behind the wheel in George Russell and Robert Kubica should ensure it’s got a fighting chance to redeem itself…
…and it needs to, with Pastor Maldonado taking Williams’ last race win in 2012 and Jacques Villeneuve its last world championship in 1997.