Williams F1 Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe insists that despite the delays and issues the team have faced in getting it to the track, Williams’ 2019 car is a ‘much better platform’ than its predecessor, the hapless FW41.
This, Lowe says, is based on feedback from Robert Kubica, Williams’ current race driver and the team’s reserve driver for the 2018 season, and the only driver to have done significant mileage in both cars.
“[Kubica] has some very encouraging comments on the qualities of the car.”
“He feels that we’ve made a huge step forwards in terms of the platform.”
“A car that is far more driveable, a car that you can work with from a driving point of view, you can control your management of tyre, you can control the balance and pace, was definitely not a description we could have given about last year’s car.”
“So that is very encouraging.”
Despite Williams struggling to unlock any real pace in the car during testing, Lowe insists it was because of the team’s late arrival to Barcelona, its focus on long runs and the wear and tear it did to the limited number of parts available to them quashing any thoughts of trying to up the pace towards the end of the eight (or in Williams’ case five and a half) days, and that the FW42 has given the team a much better foundation on which to build.
One of Williams key goals with the FW42 was to have a stable, driveable car, avoiding the unpredictability of last year’s car that, amongst other things, compromised the team’s understanding of the behaviour of its Pirelli tyres – a key area of performance that it’s critical to understand to be able to exploit.
In delivering a car with “better properties” Lowe says that Williams’ key target has been achieved.
However, offering a word of caution, Lowe said that this was no guarantee that the FW42 would be a step forward in terms of speed or performance than its predecessor, only that it gave them the bedrock from which they can start to attempt to extract everything the car has to offer.
“That is a good step for us, and a much better foundation to move forwards until the next stage.”
So what can we take from Paddy’s comments? Well, either we can take him at his word and though the FW42 may be slow at first, its development should be steady and progress at a decent rate, avoiding the cul-de-sac Williams found themselves in last year being completely unable to improve the car in any significant way at any point in the season.
Or, looking at it from a more cynical point of view, without any tangible signs of progress from last year’s car Paddy could be desperately seeking anything that’s better on with the FW42 than its predecessor, and if the best he can find is that it’s not undriveable then it could be a long season for us, and a very short season for him.
Let’s hope it’s the former.