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