Williams F1 has a “massively exciting” future ahead as they battle short-term pains from a massive overhaul — Robson

Photo Credit: Williams Racing
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While Williams have certainly had a fall from their dominance of the 80s and 90s, the team has shown signs of recovery in the last couple of years.

That being said, while the team has made some progress, recent weeks have been a wake up call that shows how much more work is ahead of them.

After Alex Albon’s crash in FP1 of the Australian Grand Prix that put the car in a state of disrepair, a third chassis was unavailable. It forced Logan Sargeant to miss the weekend, with the team prioritising Albon in an attempt to score points. In the end, the gamble didn’t pay off, as the Thai finished P11.

At Suzuka last weekend, Logan Sargeant crashed in FP1. On the opening lap of the race, Albon ended up in the tyre barriers following contact with Daniel Ricciardo.

According to Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, Dave Robson, the team knows how much work they have to do, but they’re in a situation where they can’t stop the team to fix the changes. The show goes on, despite trying to change a company in motion.

“Still a huge amount going on,” he said. “It’s a bit like trying to fix a puncture on your bicycle whilst riding it at the same time.

“It’s so hard just to take some time out of the programme and give everyone a chance to adopt new ways of working.

“So it’s not easy, but it’s ongoing. There’s lots to do. That’s clear. There’s a lot been done. It’s just generally improving the tools, improving the software.

“And then getting everyone to understand what that allows us to do and how you sort of maximise those tools to push the whole programme through.”

James Vowles and Pat Fry, Team Principal and Techincal director of the Grove outfit, stated that they were both frustrated with the last-minute compiling of all parts together for this year’s car, and admitted that this needs to be improved for next year. They also conceded that they are lagging heavily behind competitors in the field. Robson agrees with them, but knows that this won’t be able to change overnight.

“I think we’ve known for a long time that the way we do it, or have done it, isn’t always terribly efficient,” he said. “But it does require or does rely on quite a lot of human glue to bring it all together.

“It will be fascinating to know where the other teams are. I’m sure that the very best teams are quite different to how we do it. I don’t know whether everyone is.

“To a certain extent, as you entertain the question, I think, the big difference is Pat’s and James’s honesty about the whole thing, perhaps more than the actual problems themselves.

“That said, the problems are there, and they need fixing, and we were doing that. But yeah, we’ve known it for a long time. But it’s always very difficult to invest in those processes when you’re struggling to invest in the car.

“Obviously, that’s quite a few years ago now. So now we know we’ve got the resources to do it. And with James and Pat we know what state of the art looks like.

“So hopefully we can quite quickly shortcut from where we are to where we need to be.”

While the statements from Vowles and Fry seem somewhat negative, Robson admits that the team has made great progress, but knows that the road ahead is still very long to bring the team back to where they feel they should be as they continue to develop everything back at Grove to get into the modern era.

“It’s massively different to where it was four or five years ago,” he said. “It’s massively exciting, and there’s no doubt it will appear as performance, definitely. Obviously, we can’t control what everyone else does, but we will definitely be in a better place.

“And so the whole way we develop and run the project is going to get hugely better. At the same time, it’s frustrating that we can’t just kind of click our fingers and have it all today or yesterday.

“So we’ve got to carry on doing what we do at the track and make the most of what we’ve got. And it’s great that it will get better.

“There’s no doubt that that happens, we just want to see it happen as soon as possible, really. We obviously can’t do that, so we’re just going to have to slog it out for a bit longer.”