In an interview with Autosport, Paddy Lowe has admitted the Williams team began internally assessing and improving its working practices and restructuring its workforce in early 2018, but that the team prefers to keep its endeavours out of the glare of the media.
We live in an age when every angle of a high profile F1 team like Williams is scrutinised, pored over and debated at length ad nauseam (on sites like this!).
And because of the nature of these conversations in 2019: often passionate; sometimes vitriolic; mostly very public, PR people feel obliged to spin any media coverage they get, good or bad, into something wholly positive. Humility, togetherness & thankfulness when good. Contrition, progress, self-learning and determination when not so.
So to hear Paddy Lowe talk about something that would paint Williams struggles throughout 2018 in a more positive light kept private, affording Williams’ PR team zero opportunity for ‘mileage’ is quite refreshing.
Compare this with McLaren’s approach to PR – ‘We’ve still got the best this’, ‘we’ll still be the best that’, ‘without Honda we’d have won this, or that, or the other…’.
It’s fundamentally more rambunctious and gratuitous.
And that jingoism is great – you still hear people say ‘oh, but McLaren has the best car on the grid…’ and ‘yes, but Fernando is still the best driver out there…’ because they’ve been told again and again that it’s true.
Only when you fail to deliver time and time again, people start to see your bluster for what it really is and they resent you for it.
The same is true with Red Bull and their relationship with Renault in 2018. Renault, Red Bull’s engine supplier received very little credit for the team’s successes in the early 2010s, but 100% of the very public blame for RBR’s underwhelming performances since.
So like McLaren, they need to deliver next year, or people will begin to see Emperor Horner isn’t actually wearing any clothes.
Williams’ approach is more measured, dignified and respectful and that’s why I believe it still has one of the biggest fanbases in Formula 1 despite enjoying very little success to speak of in the last 15 or so years.