2019 is a crucial season for Williams, the squad needing to move on from its disastrous FW41 that forced its worst campaign since 1977.
And the team’s management know major improvements in every area is the only way forward… with Williams’ chief technical officer Paddy Lowe brutally honest on the team’s recent results…
… its last race win: Spain 2012, care of former driver Pastor Maldonado.
"My conclusion: our performance has been poor for years,” he said.
But Lowe will have his work cut out for him, with so many of the teams on their own resurgent paths after tough campaigns last year.
Toro Rosso is into its second year working with Honda, while Alfa Romeo is building on the success of Sauber, Force India now Racing Point is backed by billionaire Lawrence Stroll’s consortium.
… and the team arguably provides the best bang for buck in F1.
Williams, though, has a wildcard in two highly rated drivers: former Grand Prix winner Robert Kubica returning after eight years… the world waiting with bated breath on whether he’s fully recovered from his 2011 Ronde di Andora rally crash.
The way back to F1 paved by private tests… the Pole first suiting up with Renault, then Williams, a development role leading to a race seat.
2018 Formula 2 champion George Russell will be alongside Kubica, and can earn his stripes as a Mercedes protégé, if he shows well against the Pole – whose ultimate pace is yet to be seen.
And Russell is an ambitious gun, the Brit contacting his former Mercedes colleague Paddy Lowe in pursuit of the drive mid-2018.
SOUNDBITE (English) GEORGE RUSSELL,
F1 DRIVER, WILLIAMS:
“I gave him a call a few months ago and I said, ‘Right, I want to be on the Formula 1 grid next year and I want to be with Williams.’ A couple of weeks later I was having a meeting with himself and Claire in Hockenheim and then things progressed from there.”
But while Russell will want to challenge Kubica from the outset, the team will be watching closely as it can’t afford to drop any points if it hopes to move forward and leapfrog its rivals.
SOUNDBITE (English) CLAIRE WILLIAMS,
DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL, WILLIAMS:
“Both of them have very clear talent, and very clear capabilities. But I know that they’re going to work well together. George has done some team integration, trackside. And Robert has obviously is at the race track over a Grand Prix weekend, so they know each other. I think they get on really well, I think they share a similar sense of humour. And they both know the importance of the constructors’ position for this team.”