Deputy team chief Claire Williams has revealed the despair and disappointment of failing to make Day 1 of testing, for the first time in their illustrious history, but refuses to point the finger of blame as Williams mechanics and engineers work frantically to get the FW42 on track.
But many in the paddock are asking the question: Where is Paddy Lowe?
The technical chief has been conspicuous by his absence and lack of information about him, or soundbites at least, has prompted rumours of dissent in the ranks at Grove, Lowe’s silence exacerbating the speculation that something is amiss.
His media session, scheduled for this afternoon, was cancelled at short notice as the team finally got their new car out on track.
Williams told Sky F1, “I’ve been reading a lot of speculation in the media recently about Paddy’s position. Right now all I’m focused on, all the team should be focused on, is the car and making sure the car is in the right place.”
As for the technical chief skipping the media appointment, she explained, “I think he’s probably focusing his energies on making sure that that car is in the best possible shape and I apologise that he’s not going to be talking today. I think he’s going to reschedule for tomorrow.”
She also gave some insight into the anguish at the factory, “To say it’s been a horrible few days would be an understatement. We needed to make sure we got the best car we could out, and that’s why we delayed it again until today.”
“It’s been eye-opening for me,” she said. “I think you take for granted what it takes, even for someone like me who’s been around for so long, to get these cars here.
“But everyone else has managed to get here and we haven’t, so I’m not making excuses. It’s just an extraordinary feat, just getting your car ready. It has been very difficult for everybody. We can’t underestimate the disappointment that everyone feels.”
“There’s always a lot of speculation in these circumstances, but we don’t apportion any blame at Williams. That’s not the aim of the game, it’s not what you need to be focusing your energy on at the moment,” added Williams.
This is the second car built at Grove under Lowe’s watch, the highly rated senior engineer who defected from Mercedes to ‘resurrect’ Williams, but what happened last year is well documented, they finished last in one of their worst seasons ever, 2019 was supposed to be a year of revival for the once mighty team…
But Lowe and his engineers have failed the team and their fans by not getting the FW42 to testing well on time, prompting obvious questions:
- Why is the team so late when it realised in March last year that FW41 was a disaster? Surely they started work on this year’s car earlier than most?
- Why was the 2018 car not deployed to Barcelona for this week of testing to at least give their new drivers – Robert Kubica and George Russell – much-needed track time?
Finally, just after 3pm, Russell drove the FW42 out the pitlane in Barcelona and put the first miles on the team’s 2019 challenger, in what was essentially a shakedown.
Williams will run Kubica tomorrow morning, the final day of the first four-day test, with Russell in the cockpit for the afternoon as they play catch-up to their rivals.