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After starting the season pretty well, Williams hit their lowest since the 2019 crisis in just four racing weekends. How the team from Grove got to such a low point, despite finishing 7th in the 2023 season. Let’s go through the couple of things which work at the team, and all the things which make Williams look like a bunch of amateurs.

The 2019 Crisis

Coming into 2019, Williams missed the majority of the winter testing. The team was run by Claire Williams, and the drivers were Robert Kubica, coming after his long break due to an almost life-ending accident in rallying and George Russell, an extremely talented young driver, backed by the Mercedes Academy.

The team finances were extremely poor, and they weren’t able to afford spare parts or any major upgrades. Being hugely behind all the other teams in terms of pace, they had to drive to survive and slowly build the base for the 2020 season. Sadly, it was a disastrous season, somewhat saved by Robert’s Kubica amazing performance during the 2019 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. In difficult conditions, he finished P12, and after penalties for Alfo Romeo drivers, has been promoted to P10 and received a single point. That point was the only one scored by Williams in the whole season.

Williams Coming back to life

Recently, Williams improved by a lot, but it was a very thin layer of success, mainly thanks to George Russell’s great performance. They started scoring points from time to time, but all the spendings and effort were put into “the good days”. Moments, when everything was working well, looked like a promising future. The car was much more reliable and predictable, it was possible to overtake some cars with it, but it still wasn’t ideal.

James Vowles moves to Williams

Former Mercedes engineer, James Vowles became the new Principal of Williams Racing and shared a lot of information about the poor situation of the team. The car assembly process was a list in Excel sheet, they lacked many standard operating procedures, and the Grove factory was using highly outdated machines. However, with the signing of Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, the future looked promising for the team.

Successful 2023 season

The 2023 season seemed like the first breakthrough in the process of coming back to the midfield. Williams opened the season with a P10 in Bahrain and kept scoring points on regular basis. A total of 23 points scored allowed Williams to finish P7 in the constructors, ahead of Alpha Tauri, Alfa Romeo and Haas. However, the gap to the 6th Alpine was 92 points.

Bad start to the 2024 season

The 2024 F1 season started wrong on so many levels for Williams. The domino which led to escalation of the problems was Albon’s crash in FP1 during the Australian Grand Prix. The impact was so strong, that the chassis has been destroyed and had to be sent back to the factory for repairs. A controversial decision was made to give Alex Albon the car of Logan Sargeant, as he showed more potential for scoring points than the American driver. A decision which has been praised by some and criticized by many.

The spiralling fall

After the chassis came back repaired, the team knew they are on the edge of not being able to race in the next races. Knowing that, Logan Sargeant run wide in FP1 during the Japanese Grand Prix and crashed his car. Thankfully, the chassis has not been damaged, but he had to skip FP2 as the team didn’t manage to repair his car in time. To make things worse, Alex Albon participated in a crash with Daniel Ricciardo during an opening lap, which put his Williams car into the barriers. Thankfully, the chassis has not been damaged, but the drivers totalled both of new front wings, a rear wing, gearbox, suspension and many other parts.

As a result, they will have to run older specs for the Chinese Grand Prix. In order to build a new chassis, the factory will have to dedicate a couple of weeks to build a new one, instead of spending it on developing upgrades.

Is there a way out?

Williams is in a difficult situation, which will slow down their whole development process, but there is a way out for them. To start, they have to stop crashing and destroying their cars, so instead of repairing old parts, they can manufacture new ones. But this process will take some time, and for the next couple of races, Williams shouldn’t be expected among the top10 and scoring points.

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