Robert Kubica, Williams, Interlagos, 2019

“Huge amount of work” at Williams to prevent repeat of dire 2019

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams says the team has been very “honest” with itself about the changes it must make to rebound from its poor season.

What they say

Williams scored just one point during 2019 after parting company with its chief technical officer Paddy Lowe:

It’s been a very challenging year for our team. But also when you have a difficult year, you’ve got to take positives out of it and learnings.

I think Williams and everybody that works for us has done a great job at looking at the problems, being very real and honest about them, and working incredibly hard in order to resolve them. There is a huge amount of work, unfortunately that people don’t see when they tune in on Sunday afternoon, that’s been going on at our factory to make sure that we turn this team around and we get to a point next year that we’re a whole lot happier.

But for me one of the greatest things of this year is just, I think, Williams has certainly shown and reinforced the fact that we’re fighters, that we don’t give up when times get tough, we just fight harder. And I truly believe that when you fight harder, with perseverance comes success.

You can only build success certainly when you go through some difficult times because you have to learn from your mistakes. And we’ve certainly been going through that process this year. The team have done amazing job to maintain morale and their spirit. And I think that that will carry us forward into what I hope is a whole lot better year for us in 2020.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Many fans asked the following yesterday:

Why did Lewis Hamilton not receive a knighthood in the New year’s honours’ list? He deserves it more than anyone.

F1 is a truly international sport and he is the main man.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Jsc, John Graham and Dynamite Clock!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is via the contact form or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

  • Happy 50th birthday to three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner, Toyota F1 driver and Formula E team principal Allan McNish.

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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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  • 46 comments on ““Huge amount of work” at Williams to prevent repeat of dire 2019”

    1. I don’t like knighthoods/damehoods being given to active competitors in sport… so as much as I feel Hamilton deserves one, I’m pleased he hasn’t got it yet.

      1. I second this. It’s akin to handing someone a lifetime achievement award at age 30.

        Also, Sir Jackie Stewart’s head might explode if he had to address Hamilton as Sir Lewis on the podium. ;)

        1. I wouldn’t give it to anyone under 40 or 50 years of age. Too much risk.

    2. On the plus side, not being on the list of 1000 meant Hamilton’s home address wasn’t published to the internet by the inept government. So there’s that positive…

    3. Don’t you have to be domiciled in the UK to get an honour

      1. @njf03, no – there are a lot of people on the honours list who have received awards whilst not being domiciled in the UK. To pick an example from the world of motorsports, Jackie Stewart has been domiciled in Switzerland since the 1960s, but that wasn’t an impediment for him – in fact, a significant chunk of the higher profile drivers from the UK that you can name have all been non-domiciled and have still received an honour.

      2. Domicile is not the same thing as “where you live”.

    4. From the Sky-article: Both 12 years his junior actually, or rather 12 and approx nine months his junior.

    5. Why is nobody talking about Ricciardo missing out on his knighthood?
      Or more importantly, why do we discuss and repeat social media posts about knighthoods at all on a racing fans site?

      1. @coldfly just to annoy you.

        1. Or amuse me on days without Caption Competition ;)

      2. Because its a slow news day.

        And the hue and cry supports many interests. One being the narrative that suggests poor old Lewis is underappreciated and overlooked, probably because of his colour (unsubstantiated but hey, the victim card works wonders in Western society).

        Another being it builds his image even further and many have vested interests in that.

        The man will be knighted. Be patient social media.

      3. Ricciardo is a Aussie. Australia don’t award knighthoods.

        1. Australian Knighthoods (Order of Australia) are on/off.
          With Scott Morrison as an even weaker version of Tony Abbott nothing is impossible ;)

          1. Haha yeah but he’s going to take a while to get over his Hawaiian holiday debacle.

        2. As an Australian he could be knighted by the UK though… Although he probably needs to at least win something in order to get one

    6. Unfortunately for Daniel, he drives for Renault and not Holden. Yeah, so his knighthood is in limbo at the moment.

      1. If he drove for Holden half the Aussies would be against him automatically Ford vs Holden at Bathurst is up there with all the big rivalries in sport

    7. For me the Williams plot is much more relevant than “the list”.

      They didn’t upgrade their car heavily in 2019. Minor tweaks yes, but not the change of direction you would expect from a 3sec gap.

      One might argue that they switched focus to 2020, but it would be strange not to try all concepts available since 2020 is a carry on from 2019. I mean, they had a free year’s of testing and nothing to loose.

      Did they skip 2020 and jumped directly to 2021’s new regulations?

      1. They did do some low key testing of 2020 parts on their 2019 car, but it is worth noting that the chassis homologation regulations do mean that there are limits to the amount of modifications that can be made during the season.

      2. yes, i still don’t even think they built a new car in 2018 either. just an updated version with a halo. that’s why the stroll’s left (and martini also), their money was only used to shore up the company finances instead of putting it on track. claire reminds me of the kind of young girl that grew up pilfering tenners from her dad’s wallet & never being disciplined for it.

        1. Fast, the deal with Martini was due to expire in 2019 anyway – the original deal was only for five years, and Martini had indicated that it was intended to be a one off deal. Sponsorship from alcohol companies in F1 has been declining for some time – McLaren lost their sponsorship some years ago, for example – and I believe that the Bacardi Group, which owns Martini, is now more interested in promoting their line of non-alcoholic drinks as that market is growing more rapidly.

          Furthermore, it has been pointed out that the company which brokered the deal, called JMI, was managed by Zak Brown at the time (2013, when the deal was struck) – somebody who has since relinquished his control of that company to move to McLaren.

      3. The problem is that the whole car was an issue so there were no fixes that would have delivered a reasonable performance increase. Testing parts for next year’s car on a totally broken car would have been pointless as it would not tell them how that part would behave on the next car which will be totally different (we hope)

    8. Claire Williams has got to go for the sake of the team … under her leadership they’ve got progressively worse, & she has no solution except talking about hard work and crossing her fingers.

      1. It’s a family team though, how do you sack your daughter? Nepotism at its most problematic. She should stay for media duties though, she is always optimistic in the face of massive failure. The perfect PR person.

      2. Yet another misogynistic comment… ‘Let’s blame the woman in charge’, without any evidence!

        1. Actually it’s blame the person in charge and the evidence is right there. The decline. When it happens usually the person in charge is held responsible and gets sacked. Just look at history. It’s not about blame it’s about responsibility.

          Not that I think they should sack her, cause she is williams, but in any other company she would be gone.

          1. @passingisoverrated, it wasn’t as if things were brilliant under Frank’s management after they lost their manufacturer backing in 2005 though – I think that quite a few people are blinded by 2014-2015 and forget that Williams had been spending most of their time near the back of the field for most of the 2000s and the early 2010s.

            Williams were never going to stay there, as they’re not the team they were nearly 30 years ago, which could win races at their leisure – realistically, they’ve been a lower midfield team for well over a decade now that lucked into a couple of uncharacteristically good years.

            I do also feel that putting the blame solely on her does somewhat scapegoat her for the failing of the senior management of Williams – why aren’t we questioning the performance of anybody else within the team? Could anybody here, without looking it up, even name anybody else on the board of Williams asides from Claire? How many of the senior management positions within the team could most people even name off the top of their head?

        2. another space invaded by feminists

      3. Dale, and then what should they do?

        I am not being facetious here – it’s one thing to call for somebody to go, but quite another to then come up with a clear, practical and coherent solution. If Claire was to go, then who do you think is fit to take her position and how do you want them to run the team in the future?

        Some have advocated that Williams moves towards a closer relationship with Mercedes and moves from being a fully independent manufacturer to a model that is closer to Racing Point (independent, but with a strong technical partnership), some have suggested they should move to an even closer relationship with Mercedes that is more like the Ferrari-Haas pattern, others have suggested they should put themselves up for sale to the highest bidder or to see if they can find a manufacturer willing to take them over, others still want to see them continue as an independent manufacturer. Which, if any, of those possible answers is the best way forward?

        Some have drawn a comparison with McLaren, but there are some notable differences – for a start, McLaren doesn’t have that fundamental question of “what sort of company should we become” there, as the company does have a clear rationale of existing as an independent automotive manufacturer.

        Furthermore, McLaren still has more of what Cicero famously called “the sinews of war” – money, and a substantial amount of it. Compared to Williams, McLaren can tap into a wider source of funding – it is supported by Mumtalakat and by the wider McLaren Group – and, when you look at the figures Dieter was talking about in 2018, McLaren has a budget close to 50% larger than Williams’s is ($220 million versus $150 million). Williams, it seems, has tried to reform its management structure, but the suggestion from some former employees is that the team hasn’t had the funding to then back up those reforms.

        Saying that “Claire has to go” isn’t an answer to Williams’s difficulties – it solves nothing, as you’re then still left with the question of “OK, who comes next and what should they then do?”. You still need to give that team a sense of direction, funding and a clear long term strategy, but I’m not seeing many coming up with coherent proposals for what comes next or who should take over the team.

      4. I. Not sure they have for worse. She was in charge a few years ago when they went forward quite a lot. They then lost huge amounts of sponsorship funds due to decisions made by Bernie. The manufacturer teams could mitigate that but other teams have struggled including Mclaren.

    9. Paddy Lowe was found out when he went to Williams. He cost the team a lot of money, which they cannot afford. It doesn’t help that the team has a high turnover of staff. They need to have one boss running the business, not have Dad in the background interferring. Against expectations, McLaren have benefited from a change of leadership, Williams should learn from that, but I doubt if Frank will take the hints.

      1. If williams has high turnover of staff it would be nice to hear why people are leaving. Is the pay bad or are there management issues and/or bad atmosphere. Did lowe leave because he was a bad lead or did he leave because the top brass at williams was not willing to do what he wanted. Was the 2019 car just a really bad compromise or fundamentally flawed idea?

        1. @socksolid, the exact reasons will probably only remain known to those within Williams and to Lowe himself.

          However, there was an allegation that Lowe had mismanaged the production schedule of the FW42 and, instead of accepting responsibility for that issue, he ended up overworking the factory staff to try and make up for the lost time until they protested by “working to rule”. In other words, they are alleged to have refused to do any of the overtime shifts he was demanding of them, even though they knew it meant the car would be late, as their way of protesting about Lowe overworking them to try and get out of the hole he’d created for himself.

          What seems to have sealed that decision is the claim that Lowe had been telling the senior management at Williams that the FW42 would be a much better car than the FW41. Instead, as we have seen, the FW42 not only seemed to pick up a number of the flaws of the FW41, it had several new ones for good measure.

          If those allegations have any substance to them, then the senior management are alleged to have lost confidence after the production schedule issues and the fact that the promised technical revolution rapidly turned into a nightmare, whilst those lower down the chain, and particularly those in the factory, seem to have had no confidence in Lowe’s organisational skills.

          That said, there is a suggestion that any changes by Lowe might have compounded some changes in the management structure which were being implemented in circa 2015 – Smedley did make a comment about changes in the structure of the team being made around that time, but that there was a shortfall in the required investment to make those changes work. Again, that might be a possible reason for some within the team to be discontented, though how accurate that is is open to debate.

      2. Williams made some terrible decisions back in the days when they were winning. They lost two world champions thanks to hubris and intransigence. They lost the best F1 designer for the same reason (and the car has only got worse ever since). Alas, they are still refusing to wake up and smell the coffee at Grove. I fear things will get steadily worse until they have to sell.

        1. true, many wins thrown away. lowe may have indeed mis-calculated the ability of his workforce to step-up & deliver. hard to imagine employees at ferrari or mercedes refusing to work overtime. the corporate culture seemingly has become more like british telecom, rather than a racing team – where total dedication of blood, sweat & tears is required to win races.

          1. Fast, it reportedly wasn’t so much about doing overtime, it was about being basically forced to do extra unpaid overtime – on top of what they were already expected to do – for what they saw as bailing out Lowe.

            They were dedicated to the team, but not to a manager whom they felt had done nothing to earn their trust and whom they’d been warning that problems were building up before he then asked them to do extra work to help him out at their expense.

      3. @ Jon Bee

        Having tried to deal with Paddy Lowe at Mercedes, I found his attention to detail to be sadly lacking and his willingness to make a decision non-existent. As to admitting he has made a mistake, if he can blame anyone else, he will.

        Not good personal traits for a manager.

    10. Decade? Why all the decade articles? Decade ends next year.

      1. @peartree: It’s F1. Everything happens faster. Try to keep up. ;-)

    11. This decade started 1st Jan 2000 – we (most people on the internet) work to programmers maths, where the first number is 0…

      1. This would imply a year 0

        1. Exactly as in 2020 which ends in ‘0’

    12. Williams doing huge amounts of work.

      I bet they were doing huge amounts of work to achieve last place aswell.

      Sometimes I wonder if it wasn’t better for the world for F1 teams to join up and put a man/woman on the moon every year once.

      They are using up a combined budget of 2-3 billion euros? Space X has annual budget of around third of that and can launch nice rockets in to orbit.

      All this investment of manpower, energy, resources in to driving around the track 2 seconds slower than Mercedes. Just so us fans could have something to marvel at.

      Mankind is strange sometimes.

    13. Claire is reaching Baghdad Bob levels of PR. Complete failure gives Williams the opportunity to show that they won’t give up when failing totally. You have to learn from mistakes, so having made so many, they are poised for success.

    14. Clearly that Williams was aiming for P1 but somehow overshot and ended up at P Zero

    Comments are closed.