After the worst season in Williams’ history, Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe knows that a lot hinges on the team’s new car, the Williams FW42 and the team’s 2019 Formula 1 season.
The car will be Williams’ second under Lowe’s tenure, and another car like it would surely jeopardise Lowe’s career and more importantly Williams’ 42 years participation in the world’s most glamorous sport.
Williams really couldn’t perform any worse than they did in 2018. Seven points on the board and stone last in both Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships is not something the team ever wants to repeat.
But speaking at Speedweek, Paddy Lowe has hinted that the Williams Team may have already turned a very important corner.
“2018 was an extremely difficult year for Williams, but the good thing is people have recognised the problems and are working hard on them.”
“I’m not going to make pinpoint predictions and say we will improve in the world championship, but I know we will be better.”
“We have already completed the turnaround.”
He went on to talk about the tools Williams have at their disposal to aid their progress back towards the front of the grid.
“We have a great racing car factory, we own our own the land and all the buildings. We have a first-class wind tunnel. All the ingredients are there, now it’s all about how we use them”
As well as offering fans a glimmer of hope for the future, Lowe also moved to relieve himself of some of the responsibility for Williams’ current woes.
“I came to Williams to make a difference but Formula 1 is a team sport.”
“Our last victory was back in 2012 with Pastor Maldonado in Spain and the last victory before that was in 2004. That was a long time ago.”
“2014 was a good year, but we looked better than we really were because of the Mercedes engine. Other teams had a hard time at the beginning of the turbo era. So my conclusion: Our performance has been poor for years.”
Sadly for Paddy Lowe, if the team doesn’t deliver in 2019, the blame will be laid squarely at his door.
Williams made a raft of significant personnel changes in 2018.
Head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer and former chief designer Ed Wood left the team mid-season, and at the season’s end Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley joined them to ‘spend more time with his family’.
With every departure there are fewer and fewer people left that can share culpability with Paddy Lowe.
So come the start of the 2019 F1 season, if the turnaround isn’t complete, and – despite Paddy Lowe seeming to suggest an improvement, although not one in terms of championship position is likely – an actual step forward in championship order isn’t obvious, then his paddock pass could be the next one handed in at reception at Williams’ Grove HQ.