WILLIAMS RACING: POINTS: 7 | POSITION: 10TH
2018 will not be looked back on with any amount of fondness by Williams Martini Racing. The team slumped to last in the championship and have a long road of recovery ahead with no guarantee of an immediate improvement in performance next year.
Their inexperienced driver line-up of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin could be viewed as a mistake in hindsight but an underperforming FW41 with no substantial upgrades meant that 2018 was the outfits worst ever season in F1.
2018 SEASON SUMMARY
Much was made about the driver decisions Williams had made going into the new season, opting for the financially-backed pairing of Stroll and Sirotkin, the latter with no prior experience in Formula One.
Robert Kubica had been linked to the team but his comeback was denied, perhaps the decision to bring the popular Pole back a lesson the team learned by having no senior driver in the team to help shape the development of the car.
Their season opened with low expectations, chief technical officer Paddy Lowe admitted during pre-season testing the car was underperforming in almost every area. The team started in Melbourne as the slowest on the grid and ended 2018 in the same position.
They were regularly knocked out of qualifying at the first time of asking and finishing outside of the points became the norm.
Aside from a fortunate points-scoring finish for Stroll in Baku and their sole double-points finish at Monza which was largely down to the Mercedes power unit, there was little to celebrate.
Williams suffered the ignominy of being slower in places compared to their 2017 car, an apt demonstration of just how lost the team has become since their lofty third-place finish back in 2014.
Several key members of the design and aerodynamic departments left their posts part-way through the year. Head of performance engineering Rob Smedley also parted ways with the team after the disastrous season along with title sponsor Martini.
Their home race at Silverstone served as a microcosm of their season. Both cars suffered high-speed spins during qualifying after a new update resulted in a degradation in performance and a hasty reversal to the previous specification rear wing. The regular points finishes from 2017 a long distant memory.
One of the sports most successful teams will be hoping for a revival of sorts come next season, the return of Kubica will only add to the weight of expectations placed on the team by fans.
George Russell will complete the driver line-up for the team, the Mercedes junior driver joining them fresh from winning the Formula 2 championship.
The all-new pairing also means that with Sirotkin’s backers in SMP Racing and Stroll’s money now gone, the huge hole in the budget for next year already puts Williams on the back foot.
Whilst Kubica’s return also brings along sponsorship funds, there is no title sponsor in sight and the outlook for 2019 is already grim.
The Grove-based outfit cannot afford to go through another season like 2018. Williams is one of the most iconic names in Formula One and fans are desperate to see a revival of the once great team.