Next year’s Williams unlikely to be major departure from current car

2020 F1 season

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Williams is unlikely to make another major change in its car design for the 2020 F1 season despite its troubled start to the current campaign.

The team changed its design philosophy when producing its latest car. However the FW42 was not completed in time for the start of testing and the team has been struggling to catch up ever since.

“We started on the back foot in terms of not having the time we wanted in Barcelona and so the testing we wanted to do just [got] delayed,” senior race engineer Dave Robson admitted.

“I think we’ve caught up with that and I think we are now at a point where operationally and, in terms of getting the most out of the car we’ve got, we’re close to it. That’s a lot of what we’ve seen over the six races we’ve had now. It’s a case of continuing to do that and waiting for the bits to come.”

Robson said the forthcoming upgrade will help the team understand what it needs to do with its car design for next year.

“Those upgrades when they come are going to be a quite a big guide as to where we really are. I think we know that coming into this year we did change the philosophy of the car for a good reason and now what we need to see is whether we’re just a little bit behind the curve, if we can catch up or whether actually we’ve made a mistake and have to go back with the car. That’ll be the main theme between now and the break.”

However teams have a clear reason to be conservative with their design plans for next year, Robson explained.

“I would imagine for most people 2020 will be essentially an evolution of this car because people will want to put most of their resources next year into their 2021 cars.

“I think for us that’s unlikely to be too different. We’ve got to see over the next few weeks or few months how the upgrades come through and see whether we can really start getting the most out of this car and we will know what we want to do for next year.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 16 comments on “Next year’s Williams unlikely to be major departure from current car”

    1. Oh wow great news, amazing for Williams’ fans, no doubt

      Worst of all they aren’t sure yet if their philosophy for this year’s car is right, and that they might need to go back. Go back to what? For 2020 is 2019’s dog or 2018’s? Any of this sounds good or encouraging

      1. They’re designing for safety. Slower is safer.

    2. Is there any news on Paddy Lowe?

      1. @bernasaurus he’s conspicuously absent from this article. this was his concept, so if they’re keeping the concept, that’s almost a tacit admission that it wasn’t that bad and (at a stretch) their current woeful performance isn’t all his fault. yet he appears to be the main focus of blame.

        alternatively, williams’ financial situation is so dire that they cannot switch concepts between now and 2021, so they’re just stuck with it – and they’ll qualify and finish last for the next 30 odd races. pretty grim, if so.

        1. @frood19 – I don’t see that at all.
          The article quotes: “I think we are now at a point where operationally and, in terms of getting the most out of the car we’ve got, we’re close to it.”

          If “the most out of the car” is multiple second behind in qualifying every race, and dead last on Sunday, how is that not an indictment of the current design? The fact that they are keeping it may indicate that they have no money or not enough talent in house to do otherwise. But I don’t see it as praise for the design of the worst car on the grid.

          1. Doesn’t the article really say that they have an update coming that they think will help them get on a track for development “Those upgrades when they come are going to be a quite a big guide as to where we really are.”
            That means that they still don’t know exactly what they can work towards. Just that the car doesn’t suffer the same flaws they had been struggling with in the last few years – since the article makes it clear they feel the change of direction was a good step.

            I guess with Williams really being completely off the radar on how to improve their car, it is probably not a matter of choice but having to accept that they are in no position to tackle another change of tack and stand a chance of doing it in a timely fashion for next season.

            1. @bascb – Perhaps.

              If they have eliminated prior flaws and are still this far behind though, that in itself is a big issue. To your point, perhaps removing said flaws will now allow them to move forward. If that is what is happening, I will be happy to see them eventually not be last.

              That said, given Lowe’s departure (or departure), I personally do not think they are happy with the design, regardless of whether prior flaws were removed/remedied.

            2. Well, @hobo it could just be that Lowe was not fitting into how Williams run the team.

              Surely when he joined – and got equity promised – he expected to be a large factor in how the team is ran. It doesn’t seem to be the case that that worked with what is in place.

              We don’t actually know whether Lowe felt he couldn’t do what he had wanted to do, or whether the team felt he did that wrong. Fact is, if Williams sees any perspective in this car’s design, they will probably have to stick with it. Because they don’t have the brains, nor the money and time to come up with something that is going to be clearly better by next year anyway.

            3. @bascb – Right, anything is possible. No sarcasm at all, it could have been any number of reasons why he left. I’ll just lay out my thinking and you can do with it what you will.

              If Lowe’s design is actually good, maybe it eliminated prior flaws that will allow progression or maybe it took the chassis in a different direction or fill in the blank, I would think that Williams would want to keep him around. So if the issue was Williams didn’t like Lowe or didn’t feel that he meshed, but his design was great, why not try to work around that? Likewise, if Lowe wasn’t happy but the design was great, why wouldn’t Williams try to find a way to make it work (increase pay a bit, or equity, or increase flexibility to work on other projects)?

              If the design was great, why get rid of the designer or allow him to leave?

              Maybe they couldn’t pay him enough, maybe they didn’t have the tech he was used to (coming from McLaren and Mercedes), maybe wanted out. Fine. But so far, no one is beating down his door. No one is, as far as we know, asking for him to be released from all obligations to Williams to come work at their team.

              So, is it more likely that he’s at the top of his game and doing good work but his current team is okay with him leaving and no other team is trying to scoop him up? Or, is it more likely that this design is a stinker and he has been now been released by Mercedes and Williams back to back?

              I happen to see the latter. Which if you go to my original point was, this is a bad design, and while they haven’t said it with words, they have said in actions that they blame Lowe. And, in my mind, rightfully so. This car is a dog.

            4. Right, right @hobo. You are ignoring that there is most likely going to be action in court between Lowe and Williams. They have unfinished legal business between them. Until that is solved no F1 team can hire him (don’t forget the contract regocnition board at the FIA).

              And then there is off course likely to be some kind of gardening leave.

              Sure, the car is a dog. But why is it a dog, we don’t know. And since Williams don’t have resources, nor seem to have good ideas, they probably don’t have any real options but to keep working on making it a somewhat less bad dog.

            5. @bascb – Not ignoring, wasn’t aware. I must have completely missed that.

    3. Adam (@rocketpanda)
      4th June 2019, 11:59

      This feels like a mistake. I get the idea of hanging on until the rule change and spending as much as you can then but that feels like a gamble – there’s no guarantee they’ll move forward. Surely it’d be better to work out where this one has gone wrong, scrap this car and work on building a platform that can at least qualify higher than last and grab a couple of points? At least then they’d know whatever they build for the rule change has a decent platform to build on?

      This plan they’re going for basically admits they’re going to be rooted to the back for a long time and are banking on future success with a car they’ve not built yet.

      1. @rocketpanda – Maybe they’ll start on the 2021 car as soon as the regs are set and essentially skip 2020 with a filler car hoping for a coup of some sort (see double diffuser). Risky but maybe that’s all they have left.

    4. (Re-posting from the round-up, since I realize this thread might be more geared towards this discussion)

      I wish Rob Smedley had gone into a little more detail of the R&D in which Williams haven’t been keen on investing. Their sister concern’s foray into Formula E’s under-the-hood technologies has shown they’re not shy about new and emerging technologies, which is what makes me curious.

      More tellingly, Claire has said earlier this year they’re not hurting for funds. But in light of Rob’s statement, I wonder if that fiscal comfort is partly driven by a long-term decision to focus on operational expenses and not capital expenditure. We know that teams like Williams are pinning big hopes on a favourable budget cap, so this might be a tactic to ensure they’re on the grid when (if?) that rolls around.

      Maybe Claire hopes that under a budget cap (and the 2021 regs) they can emerge in a better shape in the WCC, and use that added income for capex. Although, as a cautionary tale, I’d point to many other teams on the grid for whom money hasn’t automatically equalled success.

      1. Did ROkiT’s investment come after Rob had moved on?

        Could explain the discrepancy between what he’s alleging and there apparently being no shortage of funds?

        1. If I remember correctly the ROKiT deal came after Robs departure. It was extremely late getting a sponsor after the loss of Martini.

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