The 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix signalled the end of a pitiful season for Williams, and the last for their lame duck FW42.
Despite an enormous amount of work behind the scenes by everyone at the Williams factory at Grove and trackside to develop the car throughout the season, the seeds of what was to come were sewn before the first pre-season test.
2019 was a lost cause from the outset, and despite signs of a renaissance mid-season, the year ended how it had begun – with George Russell and Robert Kubica tethered to the back of the field with little hope of racing anyone around them not beset with mechanical issues.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Starting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 18th (George) and 19th (Robert) ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas who started from the back as a consequence of not one, but two new engines, the two Williams drivers enjoyed a squabble in the opening laps, before settling down into their respective rhythms, Robert with track position, albeit carrying some damage from their exchanges.
Robert took more out of his tyres in the opening stint in his attempt to distance his team-mate, forcing him to pit on lap 24, some eight laps before Russell.
With an excellent stint on his new tyres, Russell caught and passed Kubica, and was already pulling clear before the Pole, in his last race for the team, found himself with more substantial damage from a collision with Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi leaving him well down on pace.
Double finish for Williams in Abu Dhabi
Another double finish (Williams really shouldn’t be celebrating double finishes!) followed, with Russell in 17th and Kubica two places back in 19th, a lap down on his team mate.
“Throughout a difficult season, the drivers and the whole team have performed well, professionally, and with good humour. We thank Robert for all his efforts behind the wheel and at the factory. His determination, experience, and knowledge have been invaluable over the last two years. We wish him all the very best for his future.” said Dave Robson, Williams Senior Race Engineer.
Disappointing end to the season for Williams
A disappointing, if not wholly surprising end to the season for Williams who have toiled all season with a car that is unlikely to make it into the Williams Heritage Centre alongside the championship winners of seasons past.
At the sharp end it was another convincing win for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes – the British 6-time #F1 World Champion edging closer and closer to greatness.
The future for Williams
As Williams fans, are we expecting better in 2020? I dearly hope so, but I am slightly wary that the 2020 season could be a continuation of 2019 ahead of the shake-up planned for 2021 when new technical and financial regulations come into effect.
It’s possible that an inependent team like Williams will opt not to devote too much resource to next year’s car, choosing instead to throw all of their weight behind their 2020 challenger.
Batten the hatches sports fans, there could be another difficult season between Williams and them re-taking their place at Formula 1’s top table.