Williams Racing arrive at Silverstone for this week’s British Grand Prix with three points to their name so far this season. However, the fact that the team have not scored a point since the inaugural Miami Grand Prix should not be a shock seeing how they have not made any major upgrades to their 2022 package. Team Principal Jost Capito told media during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend that his team was “working hard” to get the update package ready in time for Silverstone. Capito has claimed that it would make the car “visibly different”, and this is no doubt welcome news for Alex Albon seeing how he has recently said that he feels it is not clear how to fix the weaknesses of his FW44.
Williams Racing have achieved 9 Constructors’ Championships in its history and this past weekend saw Williams Racing social media filled with the return of ‘Mansell Mania’. During the Goodwood Festival of Speed, a visibly emotional Nigel Mansell was reunited with his
1992 Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship winning Williams FW14B. It's difficult to think of a more iconic image for British motorsport fans than ‘Our Nige’ sat within the cockpit of 'Red 5'.
Unfortunately, even with new investment and the talent of Alex Albon, the current image associated with Williams Racing is that of being at the back of the grid. As the team continues to look a shadow of its former glories, there is a lot of expectation and no doubt pressure on getting an upgrade sooner than later.
So far this season, Williams Racing, has only twice made it through to Q2 and both of those times were thanks to the talent of Alex Albon. With track position being so crucial in Formula One, the single lap time of the car has to improve if the team hope to have any chance of keeping in touch with Haas. The American-owned racing outfit sit ninth in the constructors’ standings with a 12-point lead over Williams Racing.
Last time out on track, at the Canadian Grand Prix, Alex Albon crossed the finish line P13, having qualified in P12. In remarks shared post-race Albon explained that he knew early on it would be a difficult afternoon for his team.
“I think P13 was realistically the best we could have done today. It’s one of those things. I think this track, we knew it was going to be difficult going into it. Obviously, we had a good qualifying yesterday but in the first few laps you could tell it was going to be a tricky race. I mean, I was hopeful, but on Friday we were already maybe half a second to a second slower than the next car – that’s not ideal.” Albon said.
Now, in remarks first published on motorsport.com, Alex Albon has explained how he feels the issues faced by the FW44 “aren’t so clear” to fix. “Everyone has been upgrading, and we haven’t had a major upgrade in a while, so there’s that side to it,” Albon said. “Balance-wise, we have weaknesses in the car, which aren’t so clear to be able to fix with what we’ve got right now, with updates…Most things are predominantly down to the through-corner characteristics of the car. Hopefully [an update] will put it in a better window, but until then, it does make things tricky.”
No motorsport fan likes to see a team struggling and the recent remarks of Williams Racing Team Principal Jost Capito do seem to give reason for optimism. “We see the results from CFD, wind tunnel, and the simulator, but we have to see how it proves on track,” Capito said during the weekend of the Canadian Grand Prix. “If we can replicate what we see in theory, then we should make a step forward.”
Legendary motorsports commentator Murray Walker, well-known for his memorable televised interactions with Nigel Mansell, famously said “If is a very long word in Formula One; in fact, IF is F1 spelled backwards.” If Williams Racing don’t turn around the performance of the FW44 quickly, they may find themselves bottom of the F1 Constructors’ Championship at the end of the season for a third time in the last four years. Such an outcome would be unthinkable for such a great team.
Fortunately, another famous F1 saying is ‘you are only as good as your last race’, so now the motorsport community will wait to see whether the British Grand Prix shows signs of Williams Racing battling the midfield or being resigned to sitting at the back.
Nigel Mansell was well known for saying that a Silverstone crowd gave him a second of a lap time and that is clearly something Williams could do with. There is a lot of pressure on his former team this weekend and pressure is something ‘Our Nige’ thrived on. Whether his modern-day counter parts can follow suit remains to be seen but there will be an army of British fans out in force hoping they can do so.