Claire Williams has admitted that her team hit rock bottom in 2019, but insists that it had been a necessary for them to suffer a wretched season in order for them to make the right decisions to enable a comeback.
Williams F1 picked up just one championship point last season after Robert Kubica finished in tenth place in a topsy-turvy German Grand Prix. For the rest of the year, Kubica and his team mate George Russell were largely trailing around at the back of the field.
Kubica has since the team to take up a reserve role at Alfa Romeo, taking his personal sponsors PKN Orlen with him. Media reports this week suggest that a further big backer – the deodorant and antiperspirant brand Rexona owned by Unilever – has also decided to walk away from the team.
That deal was reportedly worth around 15 million euros per year, second only to title sponsors ROKiT. There have also been reports that smaller sponsors such as Symantec, Omnitude and Tata have also decided not to sign extensions with the struggling squad.
With the financial fallout from the team’s disastrous 2019 campaign still folding, deputy team principal Claire Williams admits that the situation cannot be allowed to continue.
“It can’t happen again,” she told Motorsport.com.
“You’ve got to sometimes hit rock bottom to know what your issues are,” she continued. “Sometimes you just go through these situations and you can get to where you need to get to by the skin of your teeth.
“But you actually need to understand what’s going on in your system to make sure,” she continued. “You’ve got to have a plan, and a proper process.
“You can put plasters on stuff, but unless you actually wish to fix them and unless you can get to the root causes of the problems, they’re probably going to resurface and come and bite you again.
Williams said that a thorough after-action review following testing had proved to be “an incredibly useful exercise”.
“It exposed all the weaknesses that we had and allowed us to put fixes in place,” she added.
“The team responded really well to that,” she insisted. “It can be quite difficult for people to be very open and honest in those situations, but we encouraged honesty.
“In any situation like that it can always be difficult for people to put their hands up and be honest and open.”
Williams said that the review had led to the implementation of new plans to address areas of weakness that had led to 2019’s cascade of problems with the fatally flawed FW42.
And she was certain that these measures meant that the team “wouldn’t succumb to the same level of issues that we faced this year.”
The proof of those hopes and aspirations will be in the first three-day pre-season test, which gets underway at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya between February 19-21.