As the debate around Robert Kubica‘s retirement from the Russian Grand Prix and the potential contractual implications that may have for the team and sponsor PKN Orlen rumbles on, Williams have moved to publicly explain the issues with George Russell‘s car that resulted in him nestled in the barriers, prompting Kubica’s withdrawal.
“We found an issue with the wheel nut retainer on George’s car, which led to the front-right wheel not sitting perfectly” explained Senior engineer Dave Robson.
“This caused a lock-up under braking.”
However, he insisted that the team don’t expect a repeat of the problem in future.
“The design is very mature and well-proven.”
“The remaining inventory will be inspected thoroughly, and we do not anticipate a repeat of the issue.”
The incident was the second significant damage to Russell’s car in as many races following contact with Romain Grosjean’s Haas in Singapore that left him in the wall, earning the F1 rookie the first DNF of his short #F1 career.
The shortage of spare parts Williams found themselves with as a result, the team say, was the justification behind Kubica’s withdrawal from the race in Sochi.
“Unfortunately, we were forced to retire Robert’s car due to the amount of accident damage we sustained in the Singapore-Russia back-to-back races in order to protect ourselves going into the next events” Robson added.
A combination of Williams Kubica’s Russia retirement and a renewed focus on the availability of team spares means that they should be better placed to compete with both cars in the remaining five races of the 2019 season where no further precautionary retirements should be required.
In more promising news, Williams’ drive for performance is still ongoing, with the introduction of a new ‘experimental’ front wing for the Japanese Grand Prix in ten days time.
If successful, Williams will stick with the update for the remainder of the season and beyond, and seem intent on using of the five remaining races as part of their test programme, developing parts for 2020 where they hope for a much improved showing.