George Russell, Williams, Baku City Circuit, 2019

How F1’s slowest team is getting even slower

Lap time watch: 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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The Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend has been a horror show for the beleaguered Williams team so far.

First it had to replace George Russell’s chassis when his original car was smashed by a broken drain cover. Then Robert Kubica pranged his car in the first stage of qualifying. For the fourth time in as many races, neither driver made it to Q2.

Baku was one of the few bright points for the team in 2018. Last year it got both its cars into Q2 and scored a rare points finish in the race.

But 12 months on the team was not only slower than it was at the same track last year, it continued an alarming trend of getting progressively slower compared to its 2018 pace at every round so far. In Australia they were 0.13 seconds slower than they had been the previous season, which was bad enough, but since then the gap has only widened:

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It gets worse. This is the second race in a row where Williams have turned up with a slower car for two years running. In China they were .7 seconds slower than they were two years ago, and they are 2.7 seconds off their 2017 pace this weekend:


Every other team showed up with a car that was at least half a second quicker than the machine they raced last year. The teams which made the biggest gains were mostly Williams’ rival customer outfits:

This year’s best lap time was a full second inside the quickest seen last year:

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However 2018 lap times at Baku had been slower than those seen the year before. Nonetheless, Valtteri Bottas’s pole position lap of 1’40.495 established a new track record, almost a tenth of a second quicker than his team mate’s mark from two years ago:

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2019 Azerbaijan 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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8 comments on “How F1’s slowest team is getting even slower”

  1. @keithcollantine You’ve got the Williams 2017 gaps a bit wrong. It’s 1.7 and 2.7 seconds, not 2.7 and 3.7 seconds

    1. Dear Retarded. Thank you for catching the mistake. For a moment, after reading Keith’s piece, I was concerned with what seemed alarming lack of performance by the Williams F1 team.

  2. I was pleasantly surprised when the 2017 pole lap the previous outright track record holder got beaten by both Mercedes-drivers as I wasn’t expecting that coming into the weekend. I was already happy when last season’s equivalent pole time got bettered as I had low expectations for this venue lap time-wise partly due to the failure to beat the 2017 time last season and the time of year. Glad I was wrong. Approximately a tenth faster than in 2017 despite this race then taking place at a time of year when the temperatures are better for F1.

  3. How long before they don’t make the 107% cut off? Will Frank let it go that far?

  4. As I said before (might have been on Joe’s blog) there is now a good case for a reorganisation that deals with the constants (people) that have been there throughout the decline over the last few years. Clearly, either they have been unlucky, or not done their jobs properly, or not been allowed to do their jobs properly, or the wrong people have been making the decisions. (my bet)
    It will shortly be time to start work on next year’s cars, but obviously Sir Patrick needs to do some sorting out first. Sir Patrick has a reputation, he is old school management like uncle Ron, he suffers fools and slackers not at all and lets those who made mistakes know about them with no uncertainty. He will cause resentment and probably an exit of several people, but assuming he is the saviour, it is only just in time. To get replacements in they will need to be currently not in another team, else the gardening leave will stop then arriving in time.
    Will Sir Patrick be allowed to do what has to be done? You can forget this year, it’s finished, or will be wasted effort.
    Amazing that new sponsors appear!

    1. People are being way too polite. Reality is that they need to prise Frank’s claws off the team and forcibly retire him. He’s said repeatedly he’ll never retire voluntarily, but it’s clear he has to go imminently or there’ll be nothing left to die at the head of.

      Whether or not he’s still capable of doing a good job, you simply can’t have the Ghost of Championships Past haunting the factory and second-guessing the person supposed to be team principal.

    2. BlackJackFan
      29th April 2019, 3:56

      I don’t think I would want to admit in public that I comment on Joe Blog’s… ;-)

  5. I think it was around preseason testing, when I heard about all their troubles, that I thought to myself, “I should see what bookie would offer odds on Williams not scoring a point the entire season…”

    I feel like it would have been a smart bet on my part.

    To put it into context, I’m pretty sure that Manor Mercedes in 2016 had a better first four races than Williams has had this year. THAT’S how bad they are.

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