Head of aerodynamics at Williams Martini Racing Dirk de Beer has stepped down from his role with immediate effect after a dreadful start to the 2018 season.
Williams have earned just four points in the first six rounds of the 2018 championship, courtesy of Lance Stroll‘s eighth place finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April.
De Beer, who joined from Scuderia Ferrari in early 2017, played a prominent role in the design and development of the troublesome FW41 and is one of two major design team departures that Williams have seen this season. In the early stages of this month, chief designer Ed Wood left the team after 12 years citing “personal reasons”. His role has since been assumed by former McLaren F1 Team man Doug McKiernan. Dave Wheater has since been promoted from his role of head of aerodynamic performance to take de Beer’s former title.
“Williams can confirm that Dirk de Beer has stepped down from his role as head of aerodynamics, effective immediately,” a team spokesperson told Autosport.
“The team would like to thank Dirk for his hard work over the past year and wish him the best for the future.
“Doug McKiernan, who joined Williams earlier this year will now assume full responsibility over the aerodynamic and design direction of the car,” they added. “Dave Wheater will step up to take on the role as head of aerodynamics.”
Both full-time drivers Stroll and rookie Sergey Sirotkin have joined reserve driver Robert Kubica in criticising the FW41’s faults; the Pole said that the car was “not enjoyable” to drive after taking part in first Free Practice at the Spanish Grand Prix weekend under three weeks’ ago.
“To enjoy [a session], you need to have a car which is suiting your driving style and is giving you margin to drive it,” Kubica told Autosport.
“Often unfortunately now we are in a position that we are going around the track and we are not driving the car. And this is not enjoyable. This is hard work.
“I know it sounds strange, but it’s hard work to be four seconds off the pace, it is harder work that maybe fighting for one tenth or two tenths [at the front of the field].”
Team advisor Alex Wurz also pointed out a huge flaw that contributed to a dire Spanish weekend, saying that recurring floor issues have worsened from last year and therefore stalled the team’s progress.
“We’re losing downforce at the diffuser, at the floor,” said Wurz, who drove for the team in 2007, speaking to Austrian broadcasters ORF.
“We’re losing so much grip, and then the driver has no confidence at all in the car. That’s our problem. Identifying the problem is only 10%. To correct and implement this is in fact the difficult task.”