In a turn of events that could have repercussions for the Mercedes powered Williams team in 2019, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 (to give them their official title!)’s CEO and Team Principal Toto Wolff has admitted today that “we’ve had a little bit of a setback on the engine side where we believed the new concept would deliver a little bit more.”
It could be argued that Williams’ Mercedes engine was the only thing that performed well in 2018, with there being serious mechanical and aerodynamic issues with the Williams FW41 that plagued them throughout the season.
So this could have serious implications for Williams’ 2019 efforts if its Ferrari, Renault and Honda powered rivals were able to steal a march in top speed and power delivery.
However, Wolff’s comments should be taken with more than a pinch of salt – his team have won all ten championships (drivers and constructors) since the introduction of the turbo V6 1.6 litre formula in 2014, and I’m quite sure they have no intention of conceding any ground to their rivals any time soon.
Indeed, the savvy Wolff is more than likely trying to heap pressure on his engine team in Brixworth to build an even better power unit, outputting even more power than they’d previously targeted for, with Ferrari seemingly having closed the gap in 2018, and likely to be hot on their heels for 2019.
It also smacks of the wily Austrian trying to lull Mercedes’ opponents into a false sense of security.
If they think that Mercedes are already struggling to match what is reported to being developed in factories in Modena, Viry and Sakura then they might consider their job to be half done, while Mercedes beaver away trying to squeeze every last horsepower out of their engine.
So if I were Williams, I’d still factor into the FW42 a power unit that’s the class of the field, and build a car around it that is able to compete towards the very front of the grid.
Hopefully with the experience Williams gained in 2018, fundamental issues in the design and build of the car rectified and consumed with the desire not to repeat the sheer disappointment of finishing stone last in both championships, the FW42 and the 2019 Mercedes PU can power Williams – with their two world class drivers George Russell and Robert Kubica – to regular top six finishes.