[F1 2019 VIDEO FEATURE] WILLIAMS: CRUCIAL STEPS

Williams’ 2019 season was a nightmare, pure and simple. The worst in its four-decade plus history with just one point scored… 

…rookie George Russell and returning veteran Robert Kubica locked into their own fight down the back as mobile chicanes, off the pace.

But deputy team principal Claire Williams says despite the lack of results, 2018 was far worse. A cooling miscalculation in design ruining the FW41, the team forced to compromise its aero.

SOUNDBITE (English) CLAIRE WILLIAMS,
DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL, WILLIAMS:
“It has been a difficult couple of years for us, but I very much feel 2018 was probably the lowest point, and 2019 - as much as the on-track element of our life in Formula 1 has been incredibly hard, it’s been brutal for everybody involved - we anticipated it. We did what it was coming, and prior to, even the start of this season, we put a major transformation program in place.”

That nine-month transformation program has swept through the business, creating a healthier, more race-focused culture, with young talent given a chance and promoted up within the team.

Williams has opted not to replace former technical chief Paddy Lowe, who left in March. Instead promoting Doug McKiernan to head of design, and Adam Carter to head of vehicle engineering.

It’s a structure Claire Williams believes can deliver a strong car but admits there’s a lot of pressure in the system.

The 43-year-old Brit stating exclusively to The Inside Line that there’s no alternative for the squad in 2020, but to “come out with a whole lot better car.” Its last under the current regulations.

But it will have to move forward with the least experienced line-up on the grid, with rookie Nicholas Latifi joining George Russell who will take just his 22nd start in Melbourne, Australia.

The squad, though, rates Latifi’s abilities to develop a car.

SOUNDBITE (English) CLAIRE WILLIAMS,
DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL, WILLIAMS:
“He’s incredibly capable from an engineering side. And that’s what you need when you’re a team that’s not doing, necessarily, so well on the race track, you absolutely need a driver that’s able to get into the car and translate what that car is doing in order to aid the engineers to develop it over the course of the season.”

Latifi steps up from the reserve driver role, which the Canadian dovetailed with his fourth season in GP2-turned-Formula 2.

Latifi’s junior career began in Italian F3, in which he won a race, before he jumped to European F3. He moved up to Formula Renault 3.5 before GP2-turned-F2 full-time in 2016 - finishing second overall in 2019.

And the Canadian, the second Canuck on the 2020 grid after Lance Stroll, is looking forward to benchmarking against Russell.

SOUNDBITE (English) NICHOLAS LATIFI,
F1 DRIVER, WILLIAMS:
“I think we’re two very young, hungry, motivated drivers and I think that’s going to be great to push each other, and to improve ourselves, but also to help bring the team forward back to a place where we both know it deserves to be.”

The smart money would be on Russell prevailing, after the Brit destroyed Kubica this year 21-0 in qualifying. But for Williams, it’s about having two racers capable of the best results at each race. 

And in Latifi, Williams is sure they’ve made the right decision.

SOUNDBITE (English) CLAIRE WILLIAMS,
DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL, WILLIAMS:
“You want to have a driver line-up in your team that are going to complement each other in so many different ways. I think they will truly understand their role in the car, on the track, and how important the constructors’ championship is to us. 

Overall, Williams simply has to break its vicious cycle in 2020, this former powerhouse a shadow of its once dominant self… 

There’s been too much heartbreak, too much time spent as a backmarker, all of it against the memories of its glittering history.

And if it can pick itself up again, and take a step forward next year a brighter 2021 awaits.