MIDSEASON REVIEW: 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship – Williams Martini Racing


Williams Martini Racing - Lance Stroll - Hungary
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

With the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship now at the halfway stage, it’s time to review all the teams from this year’s grid and see how they’ve done so far and what they need to improve on. First up is Williams Martini Racing, who started the season following on from their fifth place in last year’s championship. The team had Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin piloting the FW41 for this season with the help of the Mercedes power unit.

SEASON SUMMARY

Williams began the season with the announcement of Sergey Sirotkin, who would replace the retiring Felipe Massa. Much discussion was about the battle for the seat between the Russian and Robert Kubica, with Sirotkin winning the seat.

The team kicked off the season with an under performing car as the team struggled to fight their way through the field. A breakthrough into the points came at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with Stroll clinching eight place in the race, putting Williams on the board. The team have continued attempting to resolve the problems with the FW41 with upgrades but both Stroll and Sirotkin continued to struggle, regularly not making into Qualfiying 2 for most weekends.

The Grove based team lie tenth overall in the constructors standings with four points, fourteen away from Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team. Stroll scored the team’s only points in Azerbaijan whilst Sirotkin is yet to score.

18 | LANCE STROLL | POINTS: 4 | POSITION: 18TH | BEST RESULT: 8TH (X1)

Lance Stroll - Williams Portrait
Credit: Zak Mauger/Williams F1

The Canadian enters his second season in F1 and already becomes the experienced driver within the team, following the departure of last year’s team-mate Massa. Stroll last year took an unexpected and rare podium in Azerbaijan. This year however, he took the team’s only point finish in the streets of Baku.

Struggling with the FW41, Stroll has often been vocal and shown his frustration to the team about the numerous issues the 2018 car is suffering. The lack of pace of the Williams has prevented Stroll to able to repeat his results from his rookie season. The opening three races saw the Canadian claim 14th place three times before he eventually scored points. He nearly scored in Barcelona with eleventh place but lost out by Charles Leclerc. Back to back retirements followed with a first lap collision at the Canadian Grand Prix with Brendon Hartley and a late race crash at Paul Ricard, a low point of the season for the Canadian.

Last year saw Lance Stroll pulled off a surprise qualifying result in Italy where he ended up on the front row in the wet conditions. This year however in Hungary, Stroll wasn’t able to repeat that and ended up crashing into the wall during Q2, damaging his nose and leaving the team to change it but breaching the Parc Ferme rules, resulting in a penalty.

To summarise his season would be that Stroll isn’t finding the new car comfortable, but is leading Williams in the charge for points at the moment, with Sirotkin yet to not score a top ten finish yet. His future at the team is looking like it’ll end following his father recently purchasing Sahara Force India F1 Team, meaning he will very likely be heading into that direction. At the moment though, Stroll is still a Williams driver and will hope to add more points to his name in the championship.

35 | SERGEY SIROTKIN | POINTS: 0 | POSITION: 20TH | BEST RESULT: 13TH (X1)

Sergey Sirotkin - Portrait
Credit: Andrew Hone/Williams F1

After taking a year out of single-seater racing, Sergey Sirotkin earned a seat at Williams after testing with the team in Abu Dhabi, in an evaluation tests alongside Robert Kubica. The Russian got the drive thanks to his understanding with the Pirelli tyres and able to be consistent with pace compare to the Polish driver. Sirotkin’s life in F1 started with a challenge as his first race in the sport ended in four laps with a brake failure.

The Russian showed promise in Azerbaijan where an impressive qualifying session landed him twelfth place, soon promoted to eleventh after Nico Hülkenberg‘s penalty. However, an opening lap contact with Fernando Alonso resulted in Sirotkin ending his race early. His best result came in the Austrian Grand Prix with thirteenth place but Sirotkin remains the sole driver to have not scored a point so far this year.

Even with an awful car from Williams, Sirotkin has shown glimpses of what he can do behind a wheel of an F1 car. Some fans would have like to seen Kubica behind the wheel but Sirotkin has rarely put a foot wrong in his rookie season. He currently beats his team-mate Lance Stroll in qualifying (7-5) but in the races, it favours Lance more as he’s beaten the Russian seven times.

Despite scoring no points so far, it seems Sirotkin’s future at the team is set to be safe, with Lance going to Force India. In the second half of the year he must aim to grab a points finish to prove to his team and the world that he is worthy of a seat in F1.

Williams Martini Racing - Silverstone
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Williams have dramatically dropped from where they were last year which is sad to see from a historic and well loved team in the paddock.  The team lies tenth with four points, fourteen away from Sauber who keep progressing thanks to the performances of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson.

If Williams continue on not scoring points then they’ll finish their worst constructors position in 41 years of history. The pairing of Stroll and Sirotkin is one of the least experienced partnerships on the grid and Paddy Lowe‘s first car design for the team being an handful has not helped. They need improving and quickly. For the final nine races, they hope to bounce back and claim more point finishes to round off what has been a difficult year.