Much was expected of the Williams FW41 which broke cover in London in mid-February, the first car built at Grove under Paddy Lowe’s watch, which ultimately proved to be the 2018 Flop of the Year.
With former Ferrari-man Dirk de Beer heading the technical side, under Lowe, they somehow managed to build the ineffective car in Williams’ history, which resulted in their worst season since Frank Williams launched his team back in the seventies.
The team was a mighty force in the sport for many years, but the last decade the slide has been constant and steady. However luring Lowe away from world champions Mercedes was supposed to be the ticket to the top again, but it wasn’t – it got worse!
Paddy trumpeted of his first ‘child’ with Williams: “It is very exciting to be giving everyone the first look at the FW41. It is the product of some great teamwork across the various functions in the organisation including aerodynamics design, vehicle dynamics, race engineering and systems engineering.”
“We were two seconds a lap slower than the front-runners last year, and that is something we would like to close up considerably. We were looking for a step change, and I hope we have delivered a strong element of that in this car.”
Not long after many former boffins were heading out the door at Grove, Paddy not included.
Instead, their two drivers Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin were handed cars that were labelled “evil” by team chief Claire Williams. Of course, heads rolled, but miraculously Lowe survived while de Beer and co. were sent packing.
But now there is nowhere to hide for Lowe as we await his FW42 which, let’s face it, cannot be worse than its predecessor, but will it be good enough to lift the 16 times Formula 1 world champion team from last on the grid?