Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Williams are 1.3 seconds slower in Bahrain than in 2017

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Felipe Massa started last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix from eighth on the grid, lapping the track in 1’30.074.

This year Massa’s place at the team has been taken by Sergey Sirotkin who was their highest qualifier on Saturday, albeit a painful 1.3s slower than the team were 12 months ago. Team mate Lance Stroll was last in qualifying.

This graph showing how each team’s lap time compares to their best effort from the same track last year illustrates the team’s dilemma in stark terms:

The extent of their plight is exaggerated somewhat. Last year Williams reached Q3, by which point the track conditions would have improved, yielding quicker lap times. As both cars went out in Q1 this year they did not have that advantage. But this is a side-effect of their performance shortfall and not the root cause.

“We weren’t quick enough today for a number of reasons,” admitted chief technical officer Paddy Lowe, “some of them we understand, some of them we don’t.”

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Every other teams has found at least 0.6 seconds over the last 12 months. The team which has made the least progress without regressing is Sauber, who also dropped out in Q1. Mercedes, who were beaten to pole position by Ferrari, are next. But even the SF71-H has not made as great progress year-on-year as most of its rival machines.

Surprisingly it is McLaren, who were disappointed at missing the cut for Q3 again, who posted the largest improvement compared to this time 12 months ago.

The track record fell for the third year in a row in Bahrain, but this time it changed hands from Mercedes to Ferrari.

NB. A different track configuration was used in 2010 and no race was held in 2011

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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75 comments on “Williams are 1.3 seconds slower in Bahrain than in 2017”

  1. It’s beyond sad.

    1. It sort of sounds like there is a need to have someone get in the car that can drive the wheels off it, if only to establish where the issues are and which end of the steering column it’s at.?
      While there is lots of moaning about McLaren, and some of it justified, they did post the biggest improvement and the fact they are disappointed is actually a good thing.
      The race may be a different story for both teams. Here’s hoping.

      1. Maybe a Polish former Grand Prix winner could drive the wheels off it?

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          8th April 2018, 10:46

          I think Williams did enough tests with him and thought Sirotkin was the quicker one. So many people think Kubica will be great. But he’s been out of F1 for so long. I think even Di Resta was quicker in the tests but he lacks funds.

          Massa is the one I think they should have. But I don’t think it was related to his skill why they didn’t keep him. More the money he was asking for. But I am totally certain Massa would me FAR better than these 2 currently are. I think they could well be heading in the direction that they loose more money from the position in the championship than the amount they would have gained my Massa putting the car further up the grid. Unless these 2 drivers dramatically improve. That said, I do think the car is possibly getting worse unfortunately. It looks a handful to drive. But whenever you looked at the on-board views last year, you could see Massa handled it really smoothly while Stroll was all over the place. Stroll just needs to have a more relaxed driving style.

        2. He showed he can do that in Canada (2007) .. badum tsss

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        8th April 2018, 14:23

        Actuallly, they need a benchmark. It might not be bad to bring back Felipe and ask him to drive over a weekend or even ask Jenson Button to try the car and give them some quali lap performance.

        Is the car capable of making it to Q3 or Row 6 or is it truly the slowest car on the grid? No one really knows…

        When you read this article and see the deficit, you’d think that Williams need to find 1.5 seconds of performance in the car over the next 2 weeks when that might not be the case.

        If it’s the drivers’s fault, they can just ask them to drive faster over the radio every time they start a lap.

        “Hey Lance, this is lap 52 do you think you can be 1.5 seconds faster this lap over the previous one and drive an average F1 lap?”

    2. Williams only have themselves to blame, going for the cash grab with two drivers who shouldn’t be in F1.
      Instead of trying to win, they are simply trying to exist.

      1. There is a free spot in the museum, after Brabham, Ligier, Tyrrell, Minardi, Lotus…

      2. Stroll has villie’s egg on his face..Williams must of done the worst deal in F1 history with daddy Stroll, What a disaster and on so many levels, very sad to see this team implode…Alan Jones is very opinionated about the whole Family culture at Williams and upper management’s abilities.

      3. @guybrushthreepwood Of course…go for wins…why didn’t THEY think of that…

        1. @robbie They had their chances with Bottas but they clearly settled in for a safe top 5 position instead of an agressive strategy for P1. Thats just racestrategy but i kinda see that mentality through and through in the team. “We can just rent out or driver positions and our car will guarantee a top 10 anyway”, yeh sure you can but you will be digging yourself deeper every year with that mentality, just ask Monisha Kaltenborn.

          1. @rethla Aggressive strategy for P1? And where do you think they have the money for that? So easy for you to say from your armchair. So easy to project a mentality upon them.

          2. @robbie They had the racepositions for it.

          3. What race positions and when?

  2. Mustardtiger
    8th April 2018, 3:19

    Interesting that Stroll is 0.2 seconds faster this year than last. The drop is all from Massa to Sirotkin.

    1. Clearly Williams should have put Stroll in Massa’s car and Sirotkin in Stroll’s car. I’m definitely interested to see what Kubica can do in a practice session.

      1. They should put stroll into a taxi and kubica into his car.

        1. “They should put stroll into a taxi and kubica into his car”

          Genuine lols

    2. And yet Sirotkin was the quicker driver of the two this weekend.
      It’s kind of sad that they will probably be fighting to not finish last this season. They should just bench one of their current drivers for a few race weekends and let Kubica have a go at it. He’ll definitely be quicker and also give them good feedback of what to fix so those those 2 clowns will start making it out of Q1.

  3. Suddenly looking at how much McLaren improved, the disappointing results are not all that bad

    1. If you think about it, the median time improvement by a team in 2018 at Bahrain is approximately 1.2 seconds. McLaren said that they were losing a second a lap at this circuit last year because of the Honda engine. So, if McLaren have improved by 1 second because of the engine change, it means that they have only found 0.8s worth in the chassis. Which is not good enough to be honest. They should have found 1 to 1.2 seconds additional. If McLaren had improved their time by 2.0 seconds from last year, I think they could have been happy with their progress. It would have also got them in to Q3. They’re still falling short of what is expected of them, but I’m hoping they can get it together by the time Barcelona comes around.
      Toro Rosso being quicker than them must really hurt though.

      1. 0.8 seconds is still more than renault and mercedes have improved. The real kicker is that mclaren is the slowest renault powered team at the moment. The issues are even more exacerbated because the mid field is really tight this year. From 6th to 16th the pack is inside 1.1 second. Basically one tenth faster is one spot higher in the grid.

  4. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
    8th April 2018, 3:41

    “Surprisingly it is McLaren, who were disappointed at missing the cut for Q3 again, who posted the largest improvement compared to this time 12 months ago.”
    It’s just because they have gone from utterly disappointing to very disappointing.

  5. If I compare all the Renault teams, it makes sense that Red Bull’s improvement is least, Renault little more and McLaren highest. After all, the performance of teams tend to converge when there are no major rule changes.

    The only unexplained oddity here is Toro Rosso. That their improvement is just 0.3 lesser than McLaren is surprising. If we assume that McLaren and Toro Rosso’s chassis have improved equally; then it would mean that both their chassis improved by 1.65s and the transition from Honda to Renault is worth 0.15s only.

    That’s a tiny amount of performance gain for McLaren by giving up 100mn pounds.

    1. You are not correct .. according to the above graph Renault has the least improvement from all the Renault powered teams!

      1. Perhaps that’s the effect of them having to offer the same engine modes to their suppliers? Other than Williams and Sauber, the customer teams have all made bigger gains than the manufacturers.

  6. Williams is such a disaster, the car must be really bad since stroll, as bad as he is, can’t improve considerably and if you look at 2017 qualifying, he managed to get into q2 and set a faster time then than now!

    And even then massa was over a sec faster, the williams car can be bad, but they should really give kubica a couple of race weekends to see if he can get more from the car than sirotkin, who has less money than stroll.

    1. Cause assuming stroll is still 7 tenths or more off of massa, the car might actually be pretty good, it’s the drivers dragging them down, put alonso in there and you see it might be better than mclaren!

      1. We have no idea how massa would perform with this car, so ur assumptions really have no ground. Sirotkin says there was maybe 3 or 4 tenths in the car, but not more. And he is usually right about these things. And whats so special about kubica anyway? The guy could barely fight with heidfield

        1. “And whats so special about kubica anyway?” lol i can tell you know nothing about f1 or him, he was an amazing driver on the hamilton level before the rally crash

        2. I highly doubt Stroll has lost 1.3 seconds.

          1. @robbie

            Stroll has spent the winter in training and it pays off. He was 0.2s faster this year in Q1 but sadly he didnt beat his Q2 time from last year and he still has over 1sec up to Massa.

          2. @rethla So we agree then that it is the car, not Stroll. The Massa comparison is irrelevant as the car and tires are now different.

          3. @robbie The Massa comparison is pretty relevant since he just spent an season 1sec behind Massa and that 1sec is equal to what Williams has lost over the winter. You think its completly unrelated?

          4. Yes throwing out round numbers when it wasn’t always one second to Massa, and this being now a different and perhaps worse car, is relevant.

          5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            8th April 2018, 14:56

            @robbie Massa was putting a lot of pressure on Stroll and he was still almost 1 second off the pace. I imagine with Massa absent, Stroll is probably going to perform worse than he did before since that was probably his absolute best under maximum pressure.

            Isn’t it more likely that instead of Williams going backwards compared to the other 9 teams that Stroll, who underperformed at Jolyon Palmer levels, went backwards?

            With Massa there, it was impossible for the Strolls to blame the car.

            There’s no benchmark for the Williams right now and no one can tell if the car is good or bad, much less what areas they need to improve.

            Ultimately, it is Williams’s responsiblity and it should be their #1 priority to benchmark the car with a good driver if their drivers are not capable of driving it to the limit. They need to get a fast driver in there asap to determine how their car is doing.

        3. Flyingbasil, aside from some drivers liking a car more than another, like raikkonen, it’s well established that massa is 7 tenths at minimum faster than stroll, or was last year.

          Trying to pretend he suddenly improved a lot when we can no longer compare him with massa? How convenient, somehow I don’t believe he improved that much.

          Williams car seems to be bad but even with a bad car alonso proved that you can be several tenths faster than your team mate if you’re a top driver.

          Therefore, I’d really like to see hamilton drive a few laps on that car, if you see he’s 1 sec faster than stroll and sirotkin, which is not unrealistic since he’s faster than massa, you see the car belongs to q3 and is potentially better than mclaren (probably cause of the engine).

          As for kubica, I wouldn’t go as far as saying he was hamilton level but at least massa level, he was quite a good driver, unlike stroll and sirotkin proved so far, and many of us would like to see him make a comeback, even for a year to see how he performs, since he had to work a lot to recover his form after that rally crash, however for now stroll’s and sirotkin ‘s money stopped him from doing that, that’s the problem.

          Now I’m not saying he would be as fast as massa, given how long he’s been out of the sport, but halfway between the current williams drivers and massa seems reasonable, which is still a few places gained.

  7. It’s good seeing Williams suffer, they choose for money instead of talent, should have signed Wehrlein who could do way better than that. I don’t believe the car is bad at all but Stroll can’t get anything out of it cause he’s not good enough and his input won’t work as well, Williams only have themseves to blame and i hope it’s getting even worse so they see they made a mistake.

    1. @noname they likely already know it’s not the correct decision – they probably knew that before they let Massa go. The thing is, like all struggling teams, it boils down to a balance between taking some money from mediocre drivers or letting half the staff go/going to the wall in debt to creditors.

      Don’t forget, Force India have been badly hurt this year by their recent performance, as they’re have to overspend to retain the position against better monied opposition, whilst also paying their escalated entrance fee as part of the FIA’s per-point cost of entry.

    2. Williams did not have a great deal of choice, Kubica was slower than Sirotkin in testing there is no doubt about it and Wehrlein is apparently very difficult to work with. We’re also losing a major title sponsor at the end of the year and lost our best driver for years driver last year so we had to take some money or face serious trouble. If Williams were to go extinct it would be a sad day for me and for Formula 1 as a whole as the last of the true garagiste teams in the sport and one of the most successful teams ever. Williams don’t deserve the hate when we’re fighting to survive and it was either have Sirotkin or have no team in a few years time.

      1. Kubica was faster than sirotkin in the pre-season tests I think, what’s most annoying is williams went the way of money over performance and kept pretending the opposite, that’s why some of us are happy with them being at the bottom, then if they replace sirotkin with kubica and even he can’t do that much better, I guess it’s the car or their choice wasn’t so bad, but despite team being more important than drivers in performance, this is the exception to the rule: having drivers 1 second slower than top drivers, if the car is driveable for a top driver and I don’t see why not, then this is a car that can get into q3.

  8. What a incompetent team. Stroll should ask for his money back.

    1. machinesteve
      8th April 2018, 9:22

      Good grief its as if the Putin trolls and bots have got in here as well. Williams are not incompetatnt, they are multiple world champions. The cause of their demise and their need for pay drivers is twofold. (1) The way in which the garagistas are being strangled by Fiat and Mercedes who are throwing $$$$$$$ at their factories and (2) the complete disinterest large corporate sponsors have in F1 now – smokin’ cars aint the future.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      8th April 2018, 14:13

      @ruliemaulana you are joking right? For all we know the Williams car is capable of Q3 or Row 6…

      This is the issue for Williams this year – their most experienced driver is , at his best, 1 second off the pace. If he’s slacking he can be 1.3-1.5 seconds off.

      We know nothing about Sirotkin’s performance since he’s starting in F1 – all we know is that he’s already marginally faster than Lance who has much more experience in F1 car than he does.

      1. @freelittlebirds is there any logical base of those number?

        @machinesteve they were. Yes, they on the brink of demise. (1) look at Force India (2) obviously Martini would be glad its sponsorship is over.

        1. @ruliemaulana massa was 7 tenths faster than stroll pretty much every single time, this trend didn’t improve over 2017.

          I think it’s not unreasonable to assume a top driver like hamilton would be 3 tenths faster than a post-2009-crash-massa when he was already faster at peak?

          Here’s the 1 sec off the pace assumption.

          1. @esploratore Math doesn’t applied to drivers real pace. I had answered this before on Australia quali when someone wonder where Alonso would be in Williams:

            Massa was 0.7 second faster than Stroll. Alonso was 0.5 second faster than Massa. So Alonso should be 1.2 seconds faster than Stroll. But Stroll today was 3 seconds faster than last year and Alonso was only gain 1.2 seconds (in a better car than 2017). So Alonso time would be 0.6 seconds slower than Stroll.

          2. It’s not exactly math, we’re not saying hamilton or alonso must be an amount of time faster than stroll derived by all their comparisons, but a car is supposed to evolve in a year, isn’t it?

            Do you really think williams is the only car that got slower since last year with other teams gaining half a sec – 2 sec or so?

            Or maybe it’s more realistic to say that while the car might be one of those that improved the least, the going backwards is because a driver who was 7 tenths faster than stroll was preferred a driver as slow like stroll over him?

  9. Williams are the worst, to be honest

  10. The first time that anyone has set a sub-1m28s lap time around this circuit.

  11. Williams are in a world of trouble and I suspect at the moment that it’s “mainly” car that is further compounded by inexperienced drivers that can’t come well with a car that just doesn’t want to go where it’s pointed.

    Problem is, they’ll have to prove that, something that can’t be tested unless they put Kubica (or even Massa) in the car for P1 sooner than later.
    So where along the line, heads will have to roll. Either on the driver side or the engineering/design side and a lot of work will be required to work out where.

    It’s “possible” that they’re having trouble unlocking the performance of what is essentially a good car, but at this point, looking at the car or the track, that seems a long way away if not impossible.

    So sad to see what was a big name in F1 fading away to rival the Minardi of old.

    1. Nope. The car is crap. Paddy Lowe confirmed that more than once. Besides, kubica wasnt any faster with last years car at abu dhabi test.

  12. Felix Rosenqvist says that Stroll isnt such a bad driver.Today im really happy that Marcus Eriksson didnt get a seat in this team!

    1. Felix chooses his words carefully when he still has a career to think off and Stroll has all the money ;)

  13. Kubica will be in practise 1 in Barcelona, but that won’t be enough time for him, he needs more outings.

  14. It’s sad to see an all time great team coming to this. Worse than McLaren ever was.

  15. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    8th April 2018, 9:02

    Is it true they are also slower than their 2016 time also?

    1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
      8th April 2018, 9:56

      In fact yes!
      In 2016 both guys were pretty close, with Bottas outqualifying Massa for 0.002(1:31.153 vs 1:31.155)
      Sirotkin did an 1:31.414, which is 3 tenths slower…
      Ofcourse its the Q1 vs Q3 time, but its unacceptable to be that slow having a Mercedes engine in the back.

      1. Ahah, and don’t tell me the car didn’t improve at all for 2 years, it’s just that you have to put 7 tenths-1 sec into the equation when the slow stroll becomes the fastest driver of the team!

  16. the tyres seemed the biggest influence on performance, their operational window was so short.

  17. Are you sure about the Sauber difference?
    Bahrain 2018 – best Q time by ERI 1:31.063
    Bahrain 2017 – best Q time by WEH 1:31.414
    that should be -0,351…

    1. Thanks for pointing that out – this has been changed.

      1. Btw, @keithcollantine : I didn’t see the team radio article any more for australia, are they still coming this year?

  18. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    8th April 2018, 11:51

    They need kubica and sirotkin as their full time race drivers.

  19. Not much to see here really… Stroll is 4 tenths slower than he was last year which shows what Williams have lost but they no longer have an experienced, quality driver in one of the two seats to try and sort things out. It’s sad to see but it’s entirely expected.

    The same most sports or companies. If you replace your staff with young, inexperienced, cheap options, you will struggle to maintain your previous performance levels, at least in the short term. If Williams are willing to let Stroll continue his motorsport education in F1 for the next 2 or 3 years, they might get back to competing in the midfield but it won’t happen soon.

    1. However they have Kubica’s input now too, and so far that hasn’t helped. Perhaps they need more time to sort this year’s car out.

  20. “some of them we understand, some of them we don’t”

    I.e. the fact that we have weak pay drivers we understand, what’s wrong with the car we don’t understand.

  21. Many people eager to blame McLaren (again), but apparently they do what at the very least expected from them. STR is the one made a (really good) surprise here. The good news is the fight for 4th-8th team is really close now and could go either way (with caveat STR still has the risk of the engine reliability failing them as the season goes).

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      8th April 2018, 14:36

      @sonicslv it’s too early to tell yet but we’ll see how Honda fares without McLaren. It’s possible that their woes which lasted for way too long were caused by the collaboration, not by Honda’s failure to deliver a reliable engine.

      When Hamilton abandoned McLaren, he did it because he realized that they had become too dysfunctional for him to be able to help them – 2012 was a clear indication of that.

      It’s even more surprising when you consider that Honda is one of the most reliable engine manufacturers in the world and wanted to succeed in F1 and might finally be able to succeed without McLaren.

      1. @freelittlebirds Exactly which is why I’m not saying Honda will certainly fail again.

        For McLaren, it’s a team that build from Ron ideal image and with his specifications. His biggest failure probably is not creating a proper succession to manage the F1 team when he left to build McLaren as bigger company. Many people said Whitmarsh is a good man, but the fact is many McLaren best talents leaves the team under his watch. I can’t say what exactly wrong with his style but it’s definitely not as good as Ron. I had a big hope when Ron return to manage the team and he know what he doing: getting Honda to become factory team again and getting Alonso. Without the benefit of hindsight, those are 2 major coup that have biggest chance to bring back McLaren to become WDC/WCC contender. However sadly he was dumped by “shareholders” (with some rumor it because some personal – not professional – issue). One of his another coup is securing Jost Capito – a very proven team manager- to become team manager but instead we have Boullier now. A man that looks like unpassionate to break the ceiling and just doing his job for the salary.

  22. Looking only at the lap time delta doesn’t tell the whole story though. Yes, Mclaren have found the most time, but that gain has only net them 2 positions, STR & FI on the other hand, have improved 5 positions. Renault and Sauber have also gone backwards (1 & 4, respectively), but none moreso than Williams, who have lost 10 places compared with last year.

    Thus, for the moment, Fernando’s Law applies!

  23. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    8th April 2018, 14:10

    Well, with Sirotkin and Stroll being so close together (about a tenth), Williams’s performance is unknown. We know Stroll was very slow compared to Massa and it’s possible that Massa was pushing Stroll to be faster than he was yesterday.

    Maybe the new deficit is greater than 1 second and possibly 1.2 seconds with Massa driving it. If you take that away then the deficit, then the car isn’t all that bad and possibly capable of Q3 or Row 6 with a world class driver in it.

    1. Exactly, that’s what I’m saying too, I’m not necessarily saying stroll got worse, he can also have improved, but even if you say he’s 5 tenths slower than massa, hamilton should be able to get the car into q3 or close!

  24. Massa 1.3 seconds faster in last years car with slower tyres. They need to change drivers and use last years car, thats over a second improvement without any aero updates. Bet Alonso could make this var go faster than his McLaren. If Williams drivers had the McLaren car they would struggle to make 107% rule.

    1. Exactly, was also one of my points: given how far off the pace williams drivers are, a top driver like alonso\hamilton etc. should be able to extract 1 sec more than them, and given the situation the car should be better than mclaren.

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