Claire Williams says she ‘can’t stop smiling’ as the new Williams FW43 has enjoyed a straightforward start to pre-season testing.
Having come through the travails of being by far the slowest team in Formula 1 in 2019, Williams’ start to 2020 has been considerably brighter as they seek to begin recovery. The FW43 was the first car out on track when pre-season testing began on Wednesday morning in Barcelona, and the team have since clocked up almost 300 laps over the three days so far.
“I have a smile on my face and it hasn’t come off since Wednesday morning!” said Claire Williams on Friday morning. “After the dramas of last year, it was great to see the car go out first. A huge amount of effort had gone into achieving that but that doesn’t win you any prizes. It was just another milestone on our journey to recovery and it returned a little bit of pride and dignity to the team.”
With the FW43 placing solidly within midfield times and significantly quicker than anything the team managed at the circuit in 2019, Claire said the car is responding well to what the drivers want and that testing has been going well so far: “Obviously you’re going through a period of learning in testing and we’ve got a very comprehensive run plan that’s going according to schedule. We had a small issue that needed investigating that cost us a few kilometres yesterday but Wednesday was very comprehensive and today is going well as well. From talking to the drivers, they say it’s a lot more balanced and stable than last year. We’re in a good place.”
“It’s too early to tell where anyone is, as we’re all just doing our individual programmes rather than comparing data against others. But certainly, we feel like we’ve made a step forward but still an awful lot of work to do to get the car right for Melbourne where we’ll truly understand where we are. I’m sure we’ll get more data next week when we see people doing qualifying runs.”
Asked about what the team could realistically target in 2020 as they fight to get back to respectable positions, Williams said she thinks Q2 appearances should be their first goal: “We want to go racing, that’s why Williams exists and why we’re here in Formula 1. We’re here because we love racing and last year we just weren’t racing. Robert and George were racing each other and we want to be going to races and fighting for, realistically, a Q2 position and then to fight for position in the race that brings our pride back. So George and Nicholas can fight with the midfield competitors.”
“We’re on a journey to recovery and still putting the bricks in the wall to achieve that. Everyone in the team…we’ve gone through huge transformation and change and what we’d like to see now is the rewards. Business is unrecognisable from where we were, whether that be structures, policies, procedures, how we go about designing and racing is very different compared to 2018 and prior to that. Continuing to learn, and learning over this year and continue to make improvements.”
“I’m glad all the changes we’ve made have been embraced by everyone in the team and we are starting to see rewards from the changes. But a long way to go compared to where we want to see Williams.”
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