An article titled ‘Williams admits team needs Kubica’s “fighting spirit”‘ by Scott Mitchell appeared yesterday on motorsport.com in which he quotes Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams as saying:
“I really enjoy his company, just his fighting spirit. We need that in this team at the moment.“
But is ‘fighting spirit’ really what the Williams team needs on the back of the worst season in their entire history? Or do they need more than just a determined, never-say-die Rocky Balboa attitude?
You could argue that the 2018 Formula 1 season was written-off for Williams before the fight ever began in earnest.
The Williams FW41 was a complete duffer from the outset.
With a grand total of seven points scored all season, a fifth of that of its nearest competitor (ninth placed Toro Rosso) you’d be hard pressed to find someone to dispute that: in or outside of the Williams Team.
The cause of the problems date back to before the car even turned a wheel.
Following a trying pre-season Barcelona test, Paddy Lowe conceded that:
“The limitation in the car at the moment is corner entry and stability.”
It was later revealed that a miscalculation was made at the design stage of the FW41 about the level of cooling required, and in order to cool the car/PU sufficiently, significant changes needed to be made to the aerodynamics towards the front of the car compromising its aerodynamic efficiency and stability making it, in the words of Robert Kubica, ‘hard to drive’.
Williams also admitted that the team was misled by data coming from their, usually super-accurate simulator work.
This, it turns out, was as a result of a new track surface texture in their wind tunnel which was causing inaccuracies in their data.
And it was this flawed data that was used to develop the FW41, and that contributed to its inherent flaws, hard-wired into the car’s design and as such were practically impossible to remedy.
So, saddled with all the above, would ‘fighting spirit’ have helped them achieve more from the 2018 F1 season?
Perhaps a punchier driver line-up for 2018 may have helped put a few more points on the board, but when a driver as experienced as (Williams’ 2018 reserve driver) Robert Kubica struggles with a car, you know points wont come easy for anyone, whether it be Sergey Sirotkin or Lewis Hamilton.
Williams certainly acted boldly and decisively when it was clear the FW41 was sorely lacking. Following Chief Designer Ed Wood’s departure in May, Head of aerodynamics Dirk De Beer was quickly moved on, being replaced by Doug McKiernan and Dave Wheater (semi) respectively.
And the season ended with Williams parting company with Rob Smedley.
So you could say that they’ve acted quickly and decisively in attempting to stop the rot setting in thus far, and that confronting these issues head on shows their ‘fighting spirit’.
But the last thing Williams needs now is another season spent fire-fighting, where this resilience would prove invaluable.
No, what they need now is probably more difficult (and costly!) to come by.
Williams need brilliance.
They need good, old-fashioned expertise. They need confidence, they need experience, they need inspiration and they need vision. They need the odd flash of genius, and they need luck.
And they need more of it than the competition.
Admittedly, this sounds like a lot! But we’re talking about the Williams Formula 1 Team – they should have it in spades.
Anything less and Claire Williams’ rally cry could come in handy, but let’s hope that there’s enough of the above not to need it.