The Williams FW42 is the car Britain’s George Russell and Pole Robert Kubica used to challenge for the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, both drivers competing for Williams in F1 for the first time – George Russell arrived at the team as 2018 F2 Champion and Robert Kubica found himself in a race seat having spent a season as Williams’ reserve driver in 2018.
The Williams FW42 followed Williams’ FW41 that proved to be the team’s worst in its history, with a tenth place finish in the Formula 1 World Constructors Championship and a meagre seven points scored.
The FW42 was the Williams Team’s first car since 2013 not to feature Martini title sponsorship, their deal with the drinks manufacturer coming to an end at the end of the 2018 F1 season.
Williams was the last Formula 1 team to announce a date for the launch of its 2019 car, which in hindsight was a worrying sign as to the issues the team were facing behind the scenes in their attempts to get the car ready for pre-season testing at Barcelona in mid-February.
Ahead of the pre-season testing Williams announced they’d agreed a deal with British telecommunications company ROKiT to be their title sponsor in 2019, and that it’d be known as ROKiT Williams Racing.
At the same launch event, Williams’ bold new livery was unveiled, and in a break with the traditional Williams dark blue and white, they have instead gone for an electric blue/turquoise, white and black combo.
Polish oil company PKN Orlen too sponsored the Williams team for the 2019 season in a deal that accompanied Kubica being promoted to race driver and that saw their logo displayed in various locations around the FW42.
The car, as in the previous five seasons was powered by the Mercedes 1.6 litre V6 Turbo-hybrid engine that has powered the AMG Mercedes F1 Team to twelve F1 championships in six years.
The car was designed around the new-for-2019 aerodynamic regulations aimed at encouraging more overtaking in the sport, and so was markedly different to its predecessor, the Williams FW41.
As was widely expected the Williams FW42 was designed to be a conservative car concept, without much risk taking in its design and execution, with a view to avoiding the catastrophic outcome of last year’s more aggressive design (although we now know that was partly as a result of extraneous factors).
It was hoped that Williams could steady the ship with a solid car as a foundation the team can develop throughout the season, (although this hasn’t necessarily been Williams’ forte in recent years!)
Williams miss first day of pre-season testing
On Sunday 17th of February it was announced that Williams would miss the first day of the official F1 pre-season test in Barcelona, citing an ambitious winter development programme and that they’d prefer to miss day 1 and have a car that was ready to maximise the remaining seven days of testing.
On arriving for the second week, the FW42 proved to be woefully off the pace of the cars around it – perhaps unsurprisingly since Williams’ competitors were already well into their testing programme as Russell and Kubica were doing shakedown laps.
Williams’ CTO Paddy Lowe stepped down from his position in March as a consequence of his role in the delays, in the apparent poor pace of the car and of the number of key parts on the FW42 that fell foul of the FIA’s regulations and that had to be redesigned.
Australian Grand Prix – Race-test
Without the time required to complete their full test-programme in Barcelona, the team headed to Australia for the opening Grand Prix of the season with a view to treating the weekend as a race-test for a car that wasn’t yet fully up to speed.
Worryingly, Williams were over a second off their nearest competitor, and Kubica was a second and a half off his team-mate.
Again we tried to attribute this to Williams being behind in their test programme, but sadly it was not to be, and the FW42 remained somewhat off the pace all year.
George Russell seemed to be more at home than was his Polish team-mate who simply could not get to grips with the FW42 – the team even attempting to swap chassis for the two drivers in an attempt to diagnose any anomalies between the two cars – something that proved fruitless.
The rest of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship
As a season fo very few highs progressed it was clear that Williams would be able to make little ground on its competitors, and that the FW42, whilst being a much more stable car than its predecessor, was lacking in aero – something that would be very difficult to remedy over the course of the season, despite some stellar work going on behind the scenes.
By two thirds distance, it was clear that the season (and the car) was a write off, and the team’s focus switched to 2020 – a shortage of parts resulted in some controversy when Kubica was retired in Russia to save parts, and he crashed in qualifying in Japan, furious that the team’s sole new-spec front wing had been taken off his car ahead of the session.
One point was all the team had to show for a difficult and extremely hard-fought season, after which a disenchanted Robert Kubica decided he would leave the team and turn his focus elsewhere, having been miles off the pace (and that of his team-mate) all year.
Another Williams car we’re all glad to see the back of. Scrap the effing thing.
*The FW42 had one Pole – Robert Kubica! Hahaha. #jokes
Williams FW42 Specs
|George Russell, Robert Kubica
|Mercedes Hybrid Turbo V6
|AP 6 piston front and 4 piston rear calipers with carbon discs and pads
|Williams 8 speed semi-automatic
Williams FW42 Results