As the chequered flag was shown to signal the end of a fantastic Bahrain Grand Prix, fortuitously won by Lewis Hamilton, ROKiT Williams Racing would cross the line with Robert Kubica in last place (16th due to retirements) and George Russell just ahead in 15th place. Over the years, this championship winning team has shown great creativity and talent but for now something is seriously wrong.
Despite learning more about the gremlins within the FW42, Bahrain will be a race weekend the team will be keen to forget. Their drivers are doing all they can but still they started race day in 19th and 20th. George Russell has been very prominent on YouTube being shown in videos with his body being tested to the limit due to the rigorous exercises every driver must endure but nothing could have been more painful than knowing your car is seriously lacking pace.
The main drama for the season will be the battle between teammates and who will come out on top? Will it be the much missed Polish driver who the paddock and F1 world has been thrilled to see return or will it be the British rookie with a wealth of potential, talent and ambition?
Williams is responding to their problems. First by thanking their fans in videos on their website and promising a return to success and secondly by looking into the past for guidance. Earlier this week we learnt that they have brought their co-founder Sir Patrick Head back to the team as he will take on the role of consultant.
Sir Patrick Head was co-founder alongside Sir Frank Williams back in 1976 and during his time, Williams won seven drivers’ championships and nine constructors’ titles. However, the last time Williams had such a title was 1997 so this downward spiral has not just happened overnight.
“We can confirm that Sir Patrick Head is currently offering some support to our engineering team on a short-term consultancy basis,”
2018 was a tough enough year for Williams as it saw them finish bottom of the F1 constructors’ championship with just five points to their name. However, at the moment, 5 points would be incredible.
So, why has this problem come to be?
At the Australian Grand Prix, their talented British rookie George Russell mentioned the discovery of a "fundamental" problem. A problem which the team is aware of but also a problem which could take months to fix.
Anyone watching the FW42 coming down a main straight in real life can sense that the car is slow. It is clearly lacking downforce and there must be deeper issues which are not being shared. What was shared at the start of the season however was the announcement of Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe leaving the team for ‘’personal reasons’’ and many people assume that Lowe has been the root of a lot of problems at Williams so he had to be relieved of his prominent role in the team.
Further trouble may be around the corner for Williams though because their reserve driver Nicholas Latifi had a very successful Formula 2 race weekend in Bahrain due to winning the Feature Race and getting a podium in the Sprint Race. If these performances continue throughout the year, Williams may find it tough to hold on to the talented Canadian.
So, do Williams now give up on 2019? Well, for a start that is not in their nature so instead expect the 2019 season to be treated as an elongated test session…a very elongated test session. This will allow the team to focus on the FW43 (that is most likely what it will be called) for 2020 because a third season in a row with so many problems and struggles would be catastrophic to this once great team. No one in F1 wants to see that.