Williams Racing‘s chief technical officer Paddy Lowe described last season as one of his “toughest years” in Formula 1, following the team’s dramatic slump from fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship in 2017 to last in ’18.
The team failed to score in 19 of the 21 races and accumulated just seven points, its lowest total since 2013 and a 76 point decrease from ’17, with both Lance Stroll and rookie Sergey Sirotkin struggling with the fundamental balance and aerodynamic issues of the FW41.
Williams were even forced to change the rear wing assembly on both cars between qualifying and the race at the British Grand Prix due to the upgraded package causing aerodynamic stalling under braking, resulting in spins.
While Lowe acknowledged the disastrous campaign, the former Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport executive director believes that reaching effective rock bottom can be a “healthy process”.
“It’s been a very tough season for the team,” said Lowe, speaking to Motorsport.com. “But also for me personally, I would say one of the toughest years that I’d had in Formula 1.
“Certainly in the middle of it, as different players started to appreciate what we were dealing with, it was a sort of slow realization. That was a really, really tough time. But on the good side I think we found the bottom of the trench in terms of performance.
“That is actually a healthy process for the team to go through for the long term.”
In a bid to change fortunes for 2019, Williams underwent a restructuring of its technical staff early in the ’18 season, seeing Dirk de Beer leave his role as Head of Aerodynamics after just one year.
Deputy team principal Clare Williams echoed Lowe’s thoughts that positives can be taken from a very testing year, believing that the inquest into every part of the operation will reap benefits.
“It has not been the best year for us, certainly not one that we were either hoping for or expecting,” Williams said.
“We obviously went down some pretty wrong roads and that would probably be an understatement. From our perspective we have to take the positives out, and if I were to take the positives I would say that there were a few of them actually.
“It has given the opportunity for our team to reboot and to do a proper analysis to see that we don’t make those same mistakes. It’s allowed us to interrogate every element of the operation, whether that be how our people are organised, to the structures we have in place, the processes, the procedures, our entire operations really.
“It will set us up with a good car in the future.”
Williams have a new driver line-up for 2019, with FIA Formula 2 champion and Mercedes junior George Russell joining the returning Robert Kubica.