Dave Robson has paid tribute to the late Frank Williams, who passed away just under a fortnight ago.
The 79-year old who overcame personal and sporting tragedy to lead his team to nine Constructors’ Championships and seven Drivers Championships died a week before last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The Formula 1 community paid tribute to Williams before the start of last weekend’s race with a minute silence on the grid as well as all twenty cars carrying the Williams logo as a tribute. In addition, former Williams driver and winner of the 1996 World Drivers Championship Damon Hill completed a lap of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Williams’s first World championship car, the FW07.
Robson, who moved to the team in 2015 to become Felipe Massa’s race engineer after a 14-year stint at McLaren, reflected on his memories of Sir Frank to selected media publications that included Motorlat after Qualifying in Jeddah.
"It’s been tough; it’s a bit mixed because it’s obviously sad we’ve lost him, although his active part in the team had been decreasing, and we hadn’t seen him at the track very much at all over the past few years, but yeah it’s touched everyone, but at the same time there is the mentality as there always has been of doing it for Frank, and that does play a part, and people do respond to that, and I don’t think that will be a short-lived thing, just because of what happened last weekend, I think that mentality will continue for a long time until this generation of this people starts to fizzle out of the team."
"I didn’t spend a vast amount of time with him; we used to go and see him every week or two; when Felipe came into the factory when I was race engineering for Felipe, we would always go and see Frank."
"He always had some great stories to tell, normally very amusing, sometimes maybe a little inappropriate, but he just had that infectious personality where he almost didn’t have to say very much, even if you had a bad day, 10 minutes with Frank would kind of remind you why you were here and that actually things weren’t really that bad, and there was plenty of things to be pleased about, plenty of things to work on."
"He’s just one of those people who just lights the place up, and he’s a tremendous inspiration for all of us."
This weekend’s race at Yas Marina will be George Russell’s swansong with Williams before he moves to Mercedes-Benz in 2022 to replace the Alfa Romeo bound Valtteri Bottas.
In his final campaign with the fabled British marque, Russell's four points finishes have helped move the team up to eighth in the Constructors' Championship ahead of Alfa Romeo and Haas.
The highlight of the 2021 season came at this year’s ill-fated Belgium Grand Prix when Russell mastered soaking wet conditions to qualify second on the grid alongside World Championship leader Max Verstappen.
Russell then retained his second place after only three laps were completed due to adverse weather conditions.
Robson, who has previously worked with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, was asked how Russell’s driving style compared to Hamilton’ and Button’.
"I think Jenson and Lewis are quite different; George is probably somewhere in between the two of them, but I think to some extent, that’s about dealing with the tyres, and they change. I think George is adaptable, and he’s quite instinctive, and I think he will go on to improve; he’s got the talent that he needs, and he’s obviously had a bit of a rough time with us, some good times as well."
"I think he will have learnt quite a lot from that, undoubtedly he’s still got a lot more to learn, and obviously, MGP will pick that up with him next year, and it will be quite a different ordeal working with them."
"In terms of his style and his attitude, he’s right up there with those two guys (Lewis and Jenson), his work ethic and the way he brings the team together, his ability and confidence to make decisions, they are all the big differentiators."
"There's enough people out there who have the talent, but I think he has all that he needs to be able to do the extra bit, to get the most out of the team and make the right decisions at crucial moments."