Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams has admitted that the team hit rock bottom in 2019, and has urged her team not to allow it to happen again.
Williams scored just a single point – the lowest championship total in their entire 40-some-odd year involvement in Formula 1 – in a season that saw their two drivers Robert Kubica and George Russell scrapping amongst themselves to determine who’d finish last more often than not.
But Claire insists that some positives can be taken from such a lowly position, and that hitting ‘rock bottom’ has actually given everyone at Williams some clarity and focus for the weeks and months ahead of the new season.
She told motorsport.com:
“You’ve got to sometimes hit rock bottom to know what your issues are because otherwise you just go through these situations and you can get to where you need to get to by the skin of your teeth.”
“You can put plasters on stuff, but unless you actually wish to fix them and unless you can get to the root causes for problems, those problems are probably going to resurface and come and bite you again”
“What we did after testing was implement this very thorough after-action review across every single process that was involved and accountable for that outcome.”
“It was an incredibly useful exercise, because it exposed all the weaknesses that we had and allowed us to put fixes in place.”
So the problems have been identified, and a plan to rectify them implemented. But what’s troubling me is that what’s coming from Williams this close-season is very similar to what was being said 12 months ago, after what was then Williams’ worst ever Formula 1 season.
Paddy Lowe waxed lyrical about changes happening behind the scenes that would surely remedy the problems that plagued the 2018 campaign, and how the team was moving forward, learning from the mistakes of the past. But no sooner was that put to the test, quite literally – at the Barcelona pre-season test – Lowe and Williams came up wanting, and old Paddy was offski.
So, it’s with some trepidation that I read that measures have been taken ahead of the coming season, and I’m sure it’s not without a great deal of hard work back at Grove, but I think we should all wait until the FW43 has hit the track before we offer up any kind of verdict as to whether or not the dark days are over.