It’s an expression that most Williams F1 fans wouldn’t dare dream about after the team’s disastrous start to the 2019 Formula 1 season.
Technical issues forced Williams on to the back foot from the get go when they arrived at pre-season Barcelona test several days late, before having to redesign a number of key parts after failing FIA tests resulting in a car that was seconds off the pace prompting Williams CTO Paddy Lowe, who was ultimately responsible for the FW42, to fall on his sword (or was he nudged? We might never know!).
All of this combined to Williams worst start to a Formula 1 season in their 40 odd year history, and it led to most onlookers suspecting that the gap between it and the rest of the field was so great that they’d be able to bridge that gap over the course of the season.
Only ‘rapid gains’ would allow Williams’ two drivers George Russell and Robert Kubica to even compete with those around them.
But rapid gains seldom happen in F1.
Rapid gains tend to cost tens of millions of pounds – the kind of money Williams don’t have at their disposal in 2019.
And when rapid gains are possible, they’re usually made up and down the grid (more up than down), and when everyone is gaining rapidly then the status quo tends to be maintained.
None of which pointed to progress for Williams any time soon.
However, upgrades to the FW42 for the German Grand Prix and subsequently the Hungarian Grand Prix where George Russell very nearly squeaked into Q2 for the first time in his short Grand Prix career have hinted that the team are making significant inroads in to the laptimes of the teams ahead and around them.
This prompted Autosport magazine (no less) to describe Williams’ progress as ‘rapid gains’.
And when only the very slim chance of rapid gains is good enough for Williams to salvage something from a season written off by people outside the team, people inside the team and even the bloke down the chip shop, then we should celebrate it.
I can’t wait to see what the Belgian Grand Prix brings!