A sixteenth place finish in Formula 1 is nothing to write home about. Being lapped twice by the leader makes this even worse. Yet, for Williams Racing and George Russell, a sixteenth place finish points towards marked improvements made to the car during an arduous 2019 season for all involved at the storied racing team. As the teams head home to enjoy a short vacation before the last stretch of the season commences at the end of August, Williams Racing will look towards the end of the year with more optimism and confidence.
George Russell was certainly happy to have finished sixteenth, but was quick to remind us that there is still a ways to go.
“It was finally nice to be battling with other cars. Made two overtakes to get to fourteenth at one point.”
“Today was back to reality. We definitely closed the gap, but we’re definitely the slowest car.”
As Will Buxton pointed out during F1’s Paddock Pass post race show, Williams Racing is yet to have either car retire for any reason this year. Being the slowest car on the grid aids in avoiding on track collisions, but the reliability of Williams’ cars should not to be undstated. In fact, Williams Racing has not had a retirement since Germany of 2018 when both Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin failed to finish at Hockenheim.
Prior to this weekend, Claire Williams, deputy team principal, remained realistic with the relative success of the German Grand Prix and, at the time, the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix,
“I think for us to get excited about one point [regarding Robert Kubica’s tenth place finish in Germany due to Alfa Romeo’s penalty] would probably be slightly erroneous.”
She went on to state
“Everybody at Williams has been working so hard this year, it has been another brutal season for us, so I suppose to get any kind of reward we should take… but one point for me, I can’t personally be happy with that and I don’t think anyone in our team is necessarily ecstatic about it.”
The likelihood of Williams achieving another points finish looks to be pretty slim at the moment. Despite notable improvements to the car, the lack of pace and grip is clear. The cars as a whole are just slower. There is not a particular strength at the moment which must be undeniably frustrating for the team.
Regardless of whether or not a different track would have resulted in a different result for George Russell, question the legitimacy of his sixteenth place finish is simply irrelevant. Russell was able to remain ahead of both Lance Stroll and Antonio Giovinazzi, who was forced to adjust his strategy following first lap contact. Stroll, however, never had enough pace to get around Russell even though the Racing Point car was faster.
At the end of the day, Claire Williams is right. There really is not too much to celebrate about a “fluke” point, which is still not official due to Alfa Romeo’s appeal, and a sixteenth place finish. There is still a lot of work to be done on the car to even challenge the bottom half of the midfield pack.
All may not be lost for Williams during the 2019 season, however. Since the pre-season, most journalists and those around the paddock knew that it was going to be another tough year for Williams Racing. However, in an interview with Motorsport.com in July concerning the current FW42 car, Dave Robson, who is the senior race engineer, stated,
“I’m not sure that there’s anything massively, fundamentally wrong. I think we’re just behind the curve in the development line.”
“In many ways [the 2020 car] will be an evolution of this car as we take advantage of the rules being fairly stable.”
Williams are gaining vital information and research on the current FW42, which will most likely see significant improvements for next year. By the same token, as reported by Adam Cooper in the same Motorsport.com article, most teams will simply iterate on the current 2019 cars in anticipation of the 2021 regulation changes.
The 2019 season remains full of internal opportunities for Williams Racing and the impact of having such talented drivers in George Russell and Robert Kubica can go a long way, regardless of whether Kubica is kept on for next season. The past two weekends have been bright spots that point towards better days for Williams Racing. Hopefully those days come sooner rather than later.
Photo Credit-Unsplash: Kevin Langlais