The Williams FW41 was the car that was supposed to herald a new era for the once great Formula 1 team, designed by a crew headed by technical chief Paddy Lowe and including the likes of ex-Ferrari aero guru Dirk de Beer, but the woeful car they have produced has sunk them to the back of the grid.
Lowe, who joined Mercedes when Ross Brawn departed the team before joining Williams in 2017, is quick to put up his hand and admitted, “We have to accept we haven’t done a good job.”
“I haven’t done a good enough job in making the right level of progress. I’ve been with the team 12 months, and there are things which we should have responded to earlier.”
Speaking to the official F1 website Lowe explained, “The pace is really quite bad. The car isn’t good enough, it’s not what it should be. There are some issues with it, which fortunately we think we understand and we’re very busy doing a lot of work to fix those issues.”
“None of those fixes are in place, unfortunately, which is why we were struggling so much at [Barcelona] which is an unforgiving track for underlying car performance.”
“We are not writing off this season. From the minute this car ran, it was clear there were some issues we had to deal with. We haven’t yet brought anything that solves those, so we shouldn’t expect it to be any better. But we will do in due course.”
One of the problems Williams have is that this season they have two young drivers – Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin – financing their respective seasons with the team, neither have the experience to help develop the car out of the rut it is in, so much so the team are using their reserve Robert Kubica to try and get to the bottom of their problems.
But even the Pole has limited experience driving the new generation Formula 1 cars, and he too has said that he does not envisage a quick fix for Williams. In a nutshell, all three drivers are wary of the car and way out of their comfort zone when driving it at the limit.
Lowe revealed, “There is something that is really disrupting the drivers’ ability to drive the car anywhere near the limit. There are many things that are good about the car and they are unable to show themselves, because the car is let down particular aspects.”
Meanwhile with the F1 midfield pack increasingly competitive, Lowe acknowledged that getting off the bottom rung of the pecking order will not be easy, “We have put in place a programme with the team, which we call a recovery programme, so you bring back the car back to the level we intended to operate.”
“That programme is timed up to the midseason point. I can’t guarantee anything. We just lost our way in some critical areas, which we now understand,” concluded the Williams technical chief.
Big Question: What now for Williams and Lowe?