Wil­liams hits a new low


The roller­coaster re­cent his­tory of Wil­liams con­tin­ued into 2018, and this time it hit rock bot­tom. Ninth in the last sea­son of V8s in ’13, ahead at least of Marus­sia and Cater­ham, the team bounced back to be third, third, fifth and fifth in the four sub­se­quent sea­sons, flat­tered per­haps by the su­pe­ri­or­ity of Mercedes power in the early days of the hy­brid era.

How­ever, in 2018 the Grove out­fit slumped to

10th and last by a sig­nif­i­cant mar­gin, its only scores an eighth in a high-at­tri­tion race in Baku, and ninth and 10th at Monza, where in low-drag con­fig­u­ra­tion the team man­aged to find some per­for­mance in the FW41.

Else­where it was a strug­gle for Lance Stroll and his rookie team-mate Sergey Sirotkin. Both were of­ten on the back row of the grid. The de­par­tures in May of chief de­signer Ed Wood and head of aero Dirk de Beer sug­gested that there was con­sid­er­able turmoil as the team wres­tled with fun­da­men­tal is­sues.

“There are sub­stan­tial changes that are needed in the com­pany to get us from here to where we want to be, near the front,” tech chief Paddy Lowe con­ceded at the Abu Dhabi fi­nale. “I don’t think that mind­set has been present in the team for many, many years, if ever. And that is the mind­set that’s nec­es­sary.”

This fo­cus on the big­ger pic­ture for 2019 was of lit­tle com­fort to the driv­ers, as the car never im­proved. Stroll at least knew from the sum­mer that he would be go­ing to Force In­dia, but Sirotkin, who im­pressed with both his race­craft and in­tel­li­gent ap­proach, was not in­vited to be part of the re­cov­ery process.

Sirotkin and Stroll of­ten bat­tled at the back of the pack

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