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It's been an enormous shock, admits Williams

NEWS STORY
06/11/2018

Currently seeking to leapfrog Kimi Raikkonen for third in the driver standings, Valtteri Bottas can tell you all about bad times at Williams.

In 2013, he and teammate Pastor Maldonado scored five points between them, as the Grove outfit scraped to ninth in the team standings, just above Marussia and Caterham who both failed to secure a single point.

A year later, and armed with the all-conquering Mercedes power unit, not to mention the recruitment of veteran Felipe Massa, the nine time champion constructor finished third, a feat it repeated again a year later.

Though in 2016 and again in 2017, Williams fell behind Force India, nobody expected things to go quite so badly in 2018. At a time McLaren is barely recognisable from the team which won all but one race in the 1988 season, not to mention those 12 driver and 8 team titles, so too Williams is but a shadow of its former self.

And looking back on a season which has seen her father's team slip to last, without even the comfort cushion of a Marussia or Caterham to soften the blow, nobody is more shocked than team boss Claire Williams.

"It's been an enormous shock actually," she tells the official F1 website. "I fully expected to come into this year in a much better place. I think we all did, and probably a lot of fans of ours around the world thought that we were going to be coming out with a much quicker race car.

"That was the expectation," she continues, "so when we got to testing, we didn't even have to wait till Australia to really realise that that wasn't the case.

"As the season has progressed, certainly in the earlier races, it was an enormous shock," she admits. "I couldn't quite believe that Williams was repeatedly finding itself down at the bottom of the grid, either in qualifying or the race. And I don't think I've quite gotten over that shock yet. All I know is that there are two races to go and I can't wait until the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi, if I'm allowed to say that."

Like Maurizio Arrivabene however, she insists that this is not a time for finger pointing.

"Clearly we've had countless meetings with Paddy, with the whole technical group," she admits, when asked about the various shortcomings of the FW41, which, let's not forget, is powered by that same all-conquering Mercedes engine. "Clearly there are a number of issues at play but I'm not a one to air dirty laundry.

"One of the things that I'm proudest of this year is that the team has really stuck together," she says. "We could have imploded, we could have all started a load of in-fighting, we could have sacked half the people, but that's not the way that I wanted this to play out.

"Of course we've had conversations, and we know the clear areas of weakness. I think probably the world can see the biggest areas of weakness for us, and of course there has to be accountability. We have to look at where we've gone wrong.

"Probably aero we went wrong with, cooling we went wrong with, but there are many other factors at play. You don't find yourself sliding back from P5 to P10 in the championship without a lot of other things at play as well. It's not just about how we went about designing our race car over the winter."

Despite falling to P10, despite the loss of Rob Smedley and title sponsor Martini, Williams insists that things will improve, though she admits it may take some time.

"All I can say is we're doing every single thing possible to make sure that we address every single problem that we have in this team in order to make sure 2019 is better for us," she says. But if it’s not, at least I know that we're setting ourselves up for certainly a better future beyond that."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by FQITW, 09/11/2018 12:27

"I have always thought that Williams preferred to take on a rising star and then quickly sell them on in a couple of years rather than see it through to a title challenge. A profit coming before all else.

I am a long term Williams fan (saw them get their first win) and despair of them pulling anything out of the bag anytime soon.

I also get the feeling that the ‘Raw Energy’ thing didn’t (and doesn’t) stack up so their proposed involvement with HAAS will be interesting.
"

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2. Posted by @R1Racing71, 09/11/2018 12:25

"After a bit more digging, my thoughts are that perhaps Rich Energy would be more suited to Stefan GP?

Looks like they got free publicity and a free trip to the Mexican GP – Well played.
"

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3. Posted by @R1Racing71, 08/11/2018 14:24

"@Editor Balfe - I look forward to your next piece."

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4. Posted by Editor, 08/11/2018 12:22

"@ @R1Racing71

In actual fact we've learned a few things in the last 24 hours and hope to put something together.

All I can say is that Williams went to a lot of effort to get the deal and were devastated to lose out.

On the other hand, have they had a lucky escape?"

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5. Posted by @R1Racing71, 08/11/2018 9:42

"Reluctantly, I have to agree the future is bleak at Williams. It’s easy to blame the current management and driver line up, but unfortunately the demise can be traced back to well over a decade ago.
Furthermore the recent news that they not only failed to close a potential title sponsor, but losing out to a rival team signifies the final nail in the coffin. I would like to know the back story to that one.

I’ve no doubt that the sport will be very different in the next few years, but sadly for Williams I think they are running out of time.
"

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6. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 07/11/2018 9:26

"These things do not happen overnight, the buck stops with senior management letting it get to this situation in the first place, not all the blame is with the drivers, but one experienced guy behind the wheel would surely help the situation, will Williams in effect be a Mercedes B team in 2019? "

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7. Posted by meatball, 06/11/2018 23:06

"this team is dead. its been driven into the ground for various known reasons. keep the technical and mechanical staff and fire all the business staff. stop hiring drivers that bring money - they've gotten you nowhere. Bring. Back. Kubica!!!!"

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8. Posted by Batman, 06/11/2018 22:31

"You said it all Rock Doc.

We all hope that Williams (along with McLaren) will remain for many, many years as an (the) F1 chassis manufacturer that represents the heritage of evolution between F1's past, present and future. May Williams be the team on whom anyone can see the evolution of this sport."

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9. Posted by Rock Doc, 06/11/2018 21:52

"Let's face it, you can't expect to get the same feedback from 2 rookie drivers. They were insane to think that the money they brought in was all that was needed.

At least McLaren had Alonso to bring in some points. Without him McLaren would be at the bottom with Williams.

We all hope Williams can turn it around for 2019. I'm betting they started on the 2019 car at a very early stage. I hope they manage to get an experienced driver who can help them to move forwards.

Falling down is easy. Getting back up is going to be much much harder."

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10. Posted by ESTM PRFT, 06/11/2018 21:11

"It won't (can't) get worse (I hope). "When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to loose." A once proud team (like McLaren) that now only has memories of the glory days. A resurrection will necessitate major change..."

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11. Posted by Ro, 06/11/2018 19:51

"Was he "pushed"?"

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12. Posted by Ro, 06/11/2018 18:58

"No, sorry. Its a shadow of a team to what it once was. To have two complete rookies driving, No youth at all in the technical department, its no surprise that its fallen behind. Get rid of Technical Chief(s) , they just dont work. Get a half decent driver who knows what an F1 car should drive like. Money doesnt give you instant success, it is design innovation with someone to guide the team. One more year like 2018 and its the end of Williams F1."

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13. Posted by Elf Team Tyrrell, 06/11/2018 17:36

"Good luck to all at Williams. I hope that next year is much better for them."

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