Claire Williams feels the impact of Williams Racing missing crucial time during the first F1 test of 2019 at Barcelona cannot be ascertained at this juncture.
With the big announcement of a new title sponsor ROKiT in the winter following the departure of Martini, it looked good for Williams along with the signing of Robert Kubica and George Russell as its 2019 F1 drivers.
However, things started to tumble when it was first revealed that the Grove-based outfit won’t make it for its scheduled shakedown ahead of the first Barcelona test. The team then announced its test line-up as well with a photo shoot at the track.
But then came the big release that Williams won’t take the track on Day 1 as they are not ready with their FW42. They pushed hard for Day 2 but were forced to miss as well, as they eventually hit the track on Day 3 with Russell undertaking 23 laps.
The British driver did another 17 laps on Day 4 with Kubica getting his first taste as he completed 48 in all to make it 88 laps for the team – the least among all with the next best of 248 by Racing Point, while Mercedes headed the list with 610 laps.
After a disastrous 2018, it seems like Williams is pretty much heading towards another tough period but team head Claire reckons it is hard to judge or ascertain how the missed days will impact their season as they now condense their test programme going forward.
“I think for now that is difficult to answer just because it is early days, we have missed two days of testing and that is not ideal, that is lot of potential km,” started Claire in her media briefing at Barcelona with FormulaRapida.net in attendance.
“I don’t think that we will know the full impact of having missed those days until probably a bit later on. Clearly, we are doing everything we can to condense the programme that we had, to make sure that we maximize the time available.
“And [also] we really focus our efforts and attention on the most important and critical areas to make sure that the car is in the best shape for Australia, but I don’t think we can actually tell now what impact it will have.”
The team now has only four days of testing where they not only have to go through their initial checks but give their drivers enough time to adjust themselves and at the same time collect as much data for the engineers to find the best possible development plan.
With an ’embarrassing’ situation at hand, Claire insisted that the drivers as well as the sponsors and the team were and are being kept in loop of the developments, so that there is a healthy communication and no breakdown as they approach a new season.
“We talked a lot about culture at Williams and we are very lucky that we have a great team who have great spirit and I think we saw that last year, we lost only one person from our race team last year,” she said.
“In a year when you are doing badly and to only lose one person, I think it says a lot about the spirit that we do have within Williams but we do need to prove to the world that we know that things are right.
“We have talked about that, we have spent lot of time talking to our team [including drivers and sponsors] that they know exactly what we are doing, exactly what changes we are making and they are in that journey.”
When asked about the delays, Claire refused to blame anyone especially the under-fire Paddy Lowe or elaborate as to why it happened. She revealed that the issue became apparent when they had to cancel the shakedown as they rushed to get the parts ready.
This is one aspect she thinks the team needs to address going forward as they start a new life cycle. She defended that a fresh start means, it takes time to get everything in place but insists it is not a ‘crisis mode’ yet for the outfit.
Additional reporting by Arnau Vinales