Williams is coming to the end of one of its worst-ever campaigns in its 41-year history, with just seven points to show after 19 races.
2018 its worst for five years, and one that could end as its third-ever single digit points total. The damage done by a disastrous car, with compromised aerodynamics stemming from a miscalculation on cooling.
Something that’s been tough to watch for both fans and former favourite sons like the team’s original world champion Alan Jones.
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.”
However, 2019 is seen as a fresh start with Mercedes protégé George Russell joining the team for his F1 debut. His first day already behind him, as he met up with deputy team principal Claire Williams, to sign his multi-season contract before being announced to the staff, and then the media.
And while Russell will be the first British driver to race for Williams full-time since Jenson Button in 2000, it’s the energy that he’ll bring with him that is expected to re-energise everyone at Grove.
SOUNDBITE (English) CLAIRE WILLIAMS,
DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL, WILLIAMS:
“There is so much talk about George, in the paddock, in motorsport circles, as being the next great superstar in Formula 1. So, for me it was an absolute obvious choice.”
The hype comes from Russell’s irrepressible rise in the junior categories, with the BRDC Formula 4 title, and GP3 championship. Russell now in Formula 2, where he’s likely to lift the crown in Abu Dhabi.
And while he wants to leave F2 as champion, Russell knows what he has to do to be competitive from the first round in Australia, even if he doesn’t yet know who his teammate will be.
…with Esteban Ocon, Sergey Sirotkin, and Robert Kubica on the shortlist.
SOUNDBITE (English) GEORGE RUSSELL,
RESERVE DRIVER, MERCEDES:
“Come the end of the year, I’ll be extremely focused, training extremely hard, spending a lot of time at the factory with all of the engineers, with the simulator, just to get as built into the team as possible. So when that first race comes I’m as prepared as I can be.”
For now, Russell’s arrival is positive news in a tough season for Williams, the team needing all the motivation that it can possibly get to ensure next year’s car is a step forward.