Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Lowe: “100 reasons” why Williams under-performed in 2018

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In the round-up: Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe says the team has had to accept there are many reasons why it suffered its worst-ever Formula 1 season in 2018.

What they say

There’s a hundred reasons in the car and there’s a hundred reason in the process we design and develop cars. That’s the point, there’s no silver bullet. It’s not about ‘we just do this and we’ll be alright’.

And this is what has taken a little while to discover. That’s been the process of discovery, it’s a hundred reasons and they’re not simply about making a different choice on the car about some radius or tyre pressure or whatever it’s about changing how we do things in our engineering.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Was Pierre Gasly’s fourth place in Bahrain proof of what Toro Rosso could do or a lucky result?

Bahrain was fluke moment. Nothing more. The rest of the season and the final position of the divers and team proved that. It was the beginning of the season and many teams were still trying to come to terms with switching on the new Pirelli tyres. All you saw was Toro Rosso stumbling on that sweet spot for one race completely by fluke.

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  • 56 comments on “Lowe: “100 reasons” why Williams under-performed in 2018”

    1. If RedBull shout “Wolf, wolf, look out!”, much more they get a sore throat.

      No one is listening anymore.

      1. If I recall that story, eventually the cry was true yet noone listened

        1. 100% true. The reality is without the four Red Bull cars you only have 16 cars. Not much of a grid if you ask me.

      2. I wonder if Max will enjoy Le Mans? According to most of his fans I’ve seen commenting on the issue, if Red Bull leaves then Max is gone & F1 is dead, so Liberty need to do all in their power to appease team RBR & prevent the certain mass exodus that would occur. These newbie fans really think he’s the great white hope… all of a sudden they know what’s best for F1, when a few years ago they cared nothing about it… why care now? If Max is all they’re watching for, then they’ll follow him wherever he goes & leave whenever he leaves anyway… so why get worked up about it? Only real F1 fans will care if F1 goes bust. The waggonists will just stay on the wagon they rode in on. I’m not sure why Liberty should beholden themselves to such a fickle group, personally.

        1. New fans? I’m not sure F1 has had any of those for a while but if a team or driver has managed to bring new fans to the sport, would real F1 fans not be happy about that? Without new fans, the sport will die with us.

          1. If they’re actual fans of the sport, sure. But I’m sure you’ve seen many of the same comments I have. I can’t tell how many “I only started watching F1 because of Max” or “Max is the only thing making F1 worth watching”, or “F1 needs Max” comments I’ve seen. Maybe I’m crazy, but if long term growth is what the powers that be are really after, I don’t think chasing a group who’ll readily admit that the “wonder kid” is their only draw & think everyone & everything else is rubbish is going to get it done. Just my opinion though… I don’t claim to be right, or to have all the answers. I only ventured down this rabbit hole in the first place because of the nature of some comments I just read over on Motorsport implying F1 will implode if young Verstappen decides to take his wares to another series… from where I sit, they don’t seem all that logical… no matter how many orange shirts turn up at Spa & the other handful of European races they turn out en masse for.

            1. Aldoid, if the surveys in the past by the Motorsport Network are anything to go by, the age profile of Max’s fan base seemed to suggest he was more popular with middle aged to older men (i.e. those over the age of 40) than he was with younger fans (those in their 20’s and 30’s).

              There does seem to be an element of Max’s fan base being the same transient fans who started watching when his father, Jos, first entered F1, only to drop out once Jos left the sport. Now that his son has entered F1, it seems that quite a few of those fans, now a bit older than they once were, are returning to the sport – which does seem to suggest that perhaps there is some truth in the fact that at least some part of his fan base does seem to consist of individuals who are only temporarily interested in F1 because of his nationality.

            2. @ anon Wow… tbh, I would’ve expected them to be at least half that age… even younger, based on their proclivity for arguing. But yeah, transient “fans” sounds about right.

            3. @Aldoid
              Yeah, transient “fans” it must be, right? It’s not like any of those “fans” like him because his car control is phenomenal, his overtakes are sublime, his pace is unmatched and he brings a certain element to the sport we haven seen since the 80’s, is it?
              But me, with my natural proclivity for arguing, are gonna turn things around and put it like this:
              If you’re not a fan of Max, you’re not an F1 fan! And I’m 100% convinced that most fans who have watched the sport as long as I do (1974) agree with me.
              Here’s a short list of fellow fans:
              Alain Prost, Jacky Stewart, Niki lauda, Martin Brundle, David Coulthard, Mika Hakkinen, Jacques Villeneuve, Mario Andretti, Nelson Piquet, Keke Rosberg, Frank Williams, Nigel Mansell….see where I’m going?

            4. @ Oconomo You’re barking up the wrong tree, since I actually do think Verstappen is immensely talented… pretty sure I’ve said so here many, many times. I just don’t share the sentiment that a: he’d leave if Red Bull quit, & b: F1 would be doomed if he did. But way to go, name dropping former F1 drivers to make a pointless point! Lol!

            5. @Oconomo Well said.

              @Aldoid Fair comment too, but I would just say that it is far from about the orange shirts we are now seeing in the stands because of Max. I would suggest that for every orange shirt literally worn by a Dutch fan, there are ten thousand watching on TV globally, interested in seeing what Max will do on the next lap, and the one after that, and they’re (we’re) not Dutch. So it is not at all about Liberty chasing a fan base that may or may not be fickle. I know for me I look forward to at least 15 more years of Max.

            6. @Aldoid
              So you make a lengthy post that breathes nothing but negativity towards Max fans, you get called out and suddenly I have to believe you’re a Max fan AND you’re trying to claim the moral high ground?
              No way man, crappy post, fake comeback.
              No real fan would have descriped his fellow fans the way you did.

            7. @ Oconomo Wait… so if I’m a fan of Verstappen, that means I’m supposed to automatically be a fan of his fans? Weird… but anyway… See, I’m one of those strange people who thinks it is possible to be a fan of someone or something while still maintaining the ability to be critical of them. You should try it sometime. Also, it’s pretty easy to see all my comments… just click on my name. I’ve been posting here for many years & I’m sure there are other’s who’ll vouch. Also, because you obviously missed it, my criticism wasn’t towards all fans of Max Verstappen, just the rabid ones who just showed up with “fan worship”, but don’t really give a rat’s about F1. It’s obvious I stepped on your toes… have a good cry while you work on your next comeback.

            8. Aldoid, with regards to the way that people seem to have responded when asked about their preferences in the past, there was a very strong nationalistic bias amongst the Dutch fans who responded – after people from Finland, the Dutch were, if I recall well, the second most likely to support a driver just because he shared a common nationality with them.

              There does also seem to be an element of Max’s public image being curated to appeal to middle aged men who began watching the sport in the 1990s, in part because that group is a rich target market that both Red Bull and Liberty Media are eager to tap into.

              There are quite a few media markets where there is a lot of money to be made in selling middle aged men a slice of nostalgia from the 1990s, and F1 seems to be following a similar trend. The way that Max’s image is being shaped does seem to be designed to appeal more to those older fans by positioning him as a modern day version of Senna, given that there is a particularly strong nostalgic movement centred around Senna right now.

              It does seem, when you look at Max, that particular message has been very effective at getting those fans who are in their 40s, who are most likely to have begun watching F1 in the early 1990s and for whom the comparison to Senna would resonate most strongly, to follow Max, particularly those fans who might have dropped out of F1 over time. However, that message starts becoming less effective as the age of your target group drops – if you’re under the age of about 30, you wouldn’t have grown up with a figure like Senna in the forefront of the sport and so that sort of subtle positioning is not going to have the same sort of impact.

              Instead, when it comes to the younger portion of F1’s fan base, the most popular drivers have tended to be Kimi, Alonso and Hamilton instead – Max seems to have had more limited appeal amongst younger fans, as his average fan is more likely to be closer to their mid to late 40s.

            9. @ anon I appreciate the insight, mate.

        2. There’s no way in hell that Max would leave with Red Bull.. he’ll probably walk out on them if Honda is a dud anyways. He’s here to win F1 championships regardless of Red Bull ambitions.

          1. @todfod That relies on there being a seat open for him if he leaves Red Bull. With Ferrari and Mercedes both needing to prove their junior development systems work, and both having a title-winning contender… …Max would probably have to show he was better than Vettel or Hamilton to get a seat if he left Red Bull with the desire to be a title contender.

            I think it is more likely, in that scenario, that Max would simply follow Red Bull, try to become WEC champion, and then use that to help him rejoin F1 in a car of the speed he prefers (it’s not like anyone will think the troubles affecting Brendon Hartley will affect him, and there’s more likely to be a vacancy in a title-contending team at that point).

            1. Both Ferrari and Mercedes would pick max in a heart beat, he is by far the greatest talent the sport has had since Lewis. If red bull fails to provide a championship contender he is gonna leave for one of its rivals.
              He is in formula 1 to be champion. Winning Le, Mans is something top drivers do when they retire from f1.

            2. @alianora-la-canta

              I’m fairly certain both Mercedes and Ferrari would oust a driver to make place for Verstappen. Lewis and Seb aren’t getting any younger and there’s no driver with more promise than Max right now.

            3. @todfod Agreed.

              @alianora-la-canta In the literal sense the only way Max can show he is better than LH and/or SV is if he has the WCC car. However, he has already shown what he can do in a third place WCC car, so without question Max is already the most sought after driver in F1, simply not being sought after right now because he is contracted to RBR and LH and SV are at their peak times still on their teams. I haven’t an ounce of doubt what Max could do with a WCC car, and I’m sure I’m not alone. He’s already proved he just needs the car, as all drivers do…indeed just needs 50 more hp as long as it is in a Newey car. He’s already done enough to show he would not squander a better car (better Pu). There is no way Max is leaving F1.

            4. Mercedes would be fools to keep Bottas or put in Ocon if they could get Verstappen. I think that Lewis respects Max as well, so I don’t think he would get angry, either.

        3. Constantijn Blondel
          28th December 2018, 4:37

          * great ORANGE hope.

          Don’t misstereotype us.

    2. Interesting times for Formula 1. Good luck promoting and growing a specific series when less and less people are showing an interest in motorsport as a whole.

      The solution to the pinnacle of motorsport lays in change. Never has F1 been more exposed than it is right now. The question is who is brave and wise enough to visualise and lead that change?

      1. @hamish Bit of a strange comment since the who in your question is already known, they being Liberty. And change is afoot.

        1. @robbie. Not really mate.

          You’ll be struggling to put forwards a valid argument when you don’t even understand the comment.

          Liberty owns F1. Liberty doesn’t own motorsport. You following now?

          1. @hamish Well you started by referencing F1, then your whole second paragraph is about F1, so only in one sentence do you refer to Motorsport as a whole. I don’t think it was unfair of me to point out Liberty’s involvement in F1 since F1 makes up the majority of your comment. If you want people to follow your comment more clearly, be more clear.

            1. @robbie. Not unfair, just stupid.

              Jesus rested on the 7th day mate. He didn’t create you. Digits out of ones orifice please.

            2. @hamish Wow, you need to lighten up mate. You’ve got problems.

            3. @robbie. Concerns perhaps, not problems.

              The funny thing is, even with clarification, you’ve still made no attempt to attack the argument.

              Happy new years mate ;-)

            4. @hamish Lol what’s to attack? I answered your question…Liberty. Otherwise I couldn’t care less about a discussion amidst the stench of your lousy attitude.

    3. I like that the cost cap could bring F1 teams to more series around the world.
      It’ll bring more depth and quality to series like WEC, Indycar, IMSA, etc. It would help all of motorsport draw crowds and spread the names of F1 further around the world.

      1. @scottie Not sure if a trend will start if indeed F1 can control costs significantly enough, but I had the same thought as you as something that struck me from what Marko said. That would be so great if for example RBR saved enough money in F1 that they could then also justify doing Lemans at the same time. McLaren doing the IndyCar series and not just the 500, might be another example. Until Marko said it I hadn’t thought of this type of possibility.

    4. The more I hear from the Williams camp, the more it seems apparent that nobody there has a clue as to exactly what’s wrong with their cars. Not exactly confidence inspiring…

      1. I’m sure after a few races with competent drivers, we’ll see them push on a bit. Their 2020 car will be much better.

        1. I sure hope so. As a longtime fan of Williams, the state of that team saddens me. I keep waiting to hear something positive & all I keep hearing is politician-speak.

        2. @petebaldwin if by ‘competent drivers’ you mean one new boy and one pay-driver who’s slower but with more money than the pay-driver they had last year, then sure.

      2. To be honest I wish Williams would get put out of its misery.This is kind of like watching Tyrrell die a long drawn out death. Team hasn’t been the same since Patrick Head left and Frank got old and it never will.

      3. We got 99 problems, but pit stops ain’t one.

      4. @Aldoid, I think it was reported that Williams were approximately 2% off the pole time so in the history of F1, that is nothing. Their problem may have been that they weren’t ambitious enough with their incremental improvements; remember they’d had the same “low drag” concept since 2014 and were slipping back even then so had to change. Williams (& McLaren) are afflicted with the hubris of “heritage” and “racing is in our DNA” whereas teams like Force India & Haas (to a lesser extent perhaps) just get on with it.

        It is a shame to see both teams completely devoid of leadership (no, multiple press releases are not leadership Zak). Even when Mark Webber was there, he said Williams wasn’t the same team. Was Juan Pablo Montoya’s written warning after the 2003 French GP the point when Williams became a dogmatic, HR-process driven team? Definitely not the same as the Keke Rosberg “stub-out-the-cigarette and thrash it” days.

        1. melonfarmer, what Webber said about Williams was that it was “archaic” – the problem was because Williams still had the same “Keke Rosberg “stub-out-the-cigarette and thrash it”” mentality. It wasn’t a lack of leadership that was the problem, but the fact that Williams still persisted with the mentality of “that’s how we’ve always done it, so that’s how we’re going to keep on doing it” that he felt was really damaging the team.

          I believe Nico Rosberg did also hint at that issue when he joked about the fact that Keke Rosberg had always felt that Williams resented the fact that “he wasn’t Alan Jones”, only to then joke “Well, I’m not Alan Jones either” – but, in the process, hinting at the problem being that the team was too focussed on its past rather than on the present or future.

          Aldoid, when you think about it, whenever Williams have tried to be “innovative” in recent years, they’ve usually got it wrong. Their attempts to be radical with their gearbox casing in 2011 went badly wrong, they had persistent issues with developing the FW35 in 2013 and, when trying to redesign the sidepods and exhaust exit, ended up having to revert back to their launch specification because it made the handling worse, had persistent issues with the handling balance of their cars from 2014 through to 2016 that they never fully resolved and, this year, whilst the design of the car looked good on paper, the implementation of that concept went badly awry.

          When you look at where Williams have been for most of the last 15 years and the fact that they’ve had several cars within that period which have been fundamentally flawed designs, the problems that they’ve had this year are really just the culmination of problems that have been building up for years.

          Furthermore, when you consider the size of their budget relative to other midfield teams, there is an argument over whether they are really using the funds they do have that efficiently – a repeated criticism has been that the team tends to focus on manufacturing as much as possible in house, even when there is no real performance benefit and external suppliers could probably do the job just as quickly and much cheaper than Williams can.

          Now, the fact that they’ve thrown more resources at their 2019 car means that they might be a bit more competitive, if only because their 2018 car will act as a way of showing them how not to do things. However, I’m still expecting them to be closer to the back of the field rather than the front – they’ve still got a fairly large gap to make up, and with Force India and Sauber now in a position to increase their investment and budget, they might find it hard to catch up with them.

          1. I’m not a fan of Williams, but that is quite a sobering (and slightly depressing) comment.

        2. Hard to argue with you both @melonfarmer & @anon. I remember listening to Claire Williams talking about they’re proud of the fact that they’re a constructor & they’ll always be one (meaning they’re against the Haas model & wanna build as much as possible in house), and thinking to myself: maybe that’s the problem?… Surely there must be some middle ground in there that makes more sense than what’s going on now.

          1. Aldoid, there is perhaps an element of Williams choosing to do that because Frank Williams’s ethos was that, by ensuring that the team would not be beholden to anybody but themselves, it helped ensure the long term survival of the team.

            Frank’s early years, when he’d often had to rely on customer cars, had their share of hardship and tragedy, and may have instilled a mentality of wanting to ensure that he could always stand on his two feet. Furthermore, the way in which Sauber almost vanished from the sport in the wake of the damage done by BMW’s departure will, no doubt, have played on the minds of Williams’s senior management and seen as a sign of the risks of depending on an external manufacturer – especially since it might well have been them who went the way of Sauber given how BMW tried to buy Williams first.

            Against that, though, even the largest teams have often shown a strong degree of pragmatism and been more willing to outsource development work and to bring in external experts than Williams have. When KERS was first introduced, Mercedes accepted that they needed external help and went to Zytek – I am not sure if Zytek do still supply parts to Mercedes now, but they did work with them a fair bit during the previous V8 era.

            Similarly, back in 2014, when their first engine design proved to be unsuccessful, Ferrari handed over a lot of the work of redesigning the engine to AVL, an Austrian mechanical engineering company as they accepted that their own in house team needed help.

            Even smaller teams have been prepared to draw in help from external parties, and indeed have often had to for the sake of making economies – for example, Force India have tended to subcontract a fair amount of the manufacturing work on their chassis and components to Formtech, a specialist composites firm, rather than building all of the components in house given that it is cost effective for them to do that.

            You can kind of see a logic in Williams’s approach, since it perhaps gives them a sense of security to be more self sufficient, but perhaps it is an approach that is more labour and capital intensive than is really sustainable any more for even the largest teams in the sport, let alone a midfield team.

            1. Really loving the insight, anon. Some of it I’d already heard about & forgotten… had no clue about Ferrari & AVL though. It’s definitely understandable why Williams made the decisions they have… but maybe it’s time for a bit of a rethink with regards to outsourcing a bit of the work: I won’t pretend to know what the best course of action is for them, but I sure do hope they figure it out sooner rather than later. It just doesn’t sound like they have a handle on it yet. Hopefully they’ll prove me wrong next year.

            2. Aldoid, glad you found that interesting – the indication is that AVL were involved in improving the fuel injection system and the fuel pump between 2014 and 2015, with a particular focus on increasing the pressure of the injection system to the maximum limit to improve atomisation.

              It is true that it is hard to say exactly what the right course of action for Williams is, but they, and to some extent McLaren as well, are both in a situation where long running issues have now built up to a critical level.

              Some of the criticisms against the way in which Williams have operated go back at least a decade, if not longer. Equally, although the problems have come to the surface now at McLaren, there have been whispers and rumours coming from former and current employees that indicated that there were major problems with internal infighting and with the design team that went back years (I think that Perez alluded to some of that dysfunction and infighting back in 2013, and some have suggested the problems went back several years before that).

              To some extent, the institutional inertia of those teams meant that it took time for those problems to really come to the surface, but what we are seeing how has been brewing for years. To some extent, the problem has come from externalising the issues – for example, Williams dismissed the complaints that were coming from their drivers in the pre-season tests because they did not tell them what they wanted to hear, and it became easier to blame the drivers rather than themselves.

              Now, it does seem that the problems this year have brought some of those issues to a head, especially at McLaren (where the restructuring has been more public). However, the problem is that these sorts of reforms are not the work of a moment and will not cure everything overnight – and, at the same time, their opponents, from Haas to Sauber to Force India, are strengthening their own positions as well, making catching up ever harder.

              I imagine that there will be many for whom the Williams name has a lot of affection and memories of their success in the 1990s, but nostalgia cannot disguise the fact that circumstances have changed a lot and what the team might once have thought unacceptable may have to be accepted in order to bolster the team for the longer term.

    5. Its brave to admit to one or two things being wrong. 100 things? Maybe Williams will move into FE instead.

      1. Williams are in FE, they run the racing and development side of Jaguar. All Jag do are the marketing.

    6. I’m fully agree with Paddy Lowe. What I’d like to know is how many Williams’ design and development was right out of 100.

    7. I love how teams’ christmas wish es are staged. It’s pathetic.

      1. Heh, I kept scrolling to see if there was a tweet I’d actually be interested in viewing.

    8. @Comment of the Day: Was Pierre Gasly’s fourth place in Bahrain proof of what Toro Rosso could do or a lucky result?

      Nah, I’d say the Honda car was super strong that day. Hartley was right up there with the G’ster swapping places midway through the race. Then, like with Massa in the inaugural gen-2 Fe race, a 10 second penalty for some incident we didn’t see on camera. That made for a bad result for second car –Hartley, same like Massa who quailed low and got up to 8th and was looking at 6th right there – then he got penalty and ended 20th or so. It’s a little bit of both and I’m saying that the car was hot and Pierre was able to hang on. It’s hard to tell as a fan ‘cause it’s like looking through a letterbox at a fire fight.

    9. I wonder which 100 reasons, LOL.
      – Good luck with that Red Bull.
      – I agree with the COTD. He only finished as high as fourth thanks to DNF’s for three out of the regular top-six drivers. Without those, he would’ve finished seventh at best for certain.

    10. somebody i know managed to get this year’s f1 bluray review early & it seems it’s by far the worst one they have ever put out.

      she was saying that each race review is only about 6-8 minutes but that once you remove the rundown of the grid line-up & post race results actual track action is only getting about 4 minutes a race which are essentially the same as the short highlight clips that were already released on the official youtube channel.

      it’s only about 70-80 minutes total and lacks any of the depth of previous reviews.

      1. While I feared this review ever since I heard it would be a shorter format, I am disappointed with Liberty.

        I think it’s quite obvious what they want to do – devalue physical media to make their subscription offerings appear more enticing.

    11. Probably F1 at the moment, after Alonso retirement, has three assets that make it still great: Ferrari, Hamilton and Verstappen. Than it has some minor asset like Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Perez and Vettel and the English historical teams McLaren and Williams.
      So all together they still make the numbers in terms of fan/viewers. But if the puzzle start to lose more pieces before the sport attracts new fans through a better competition and show and new stars (Leclerc? Norris? Mick Schumacher?) build their own followers, F1 will suddenly become little and money will run away fast. After it, we’ll see the end.

    12. Williams for next year:

      “If your having driver problems, I feel bad for ya son – I got 99 problems, but a Stroll ain’t one”

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