Q: Claire, if we could talk a little more about that 2020-2021 split from Williams’ point of view. How difficult a juggling act is it when there’s such a huge opportunity in 2021?
Claire Williams: It’s clearly not easy. I think we’ve all talked about the challenges that we’re all going to face next year. I think everyone in the pit lane is going to have a challenge on their hands. I think it will be slightly easier for the top three teams with bigger budgets. For us, it is a real challenge back at the factory, trying to run those two programmes, for next year, for ’21 – but obviously we’ve been trying to run this year’s programme, when we haven’t let development slide. We’ve got to continue to bring upgrades to the car over the course of this season, which we’ve been doing, and really we’re looking at ’19 and ’20 as one long campaign. So, it is difficult – but we wanted the ’21 regulations to come in. We lobbied hard for them, so we’ve just go to deal with the problem head on and do the best job that we can.
Q: News yesterday on the driver front. Just a word on Nicholas Latifi. Why have you chosen him to partner George Russell next year?
CW: I think it was probably a fairly obvious choice. We’re pleased that we’re able to make an announcement. It’s been a long time coming and probably an obvious choice for us. Nicholas has been with us now this year, as our reserve driver. He’s done six FP1s for us and some test sessions. He’ll run next week at the Abu Dhabi test, and he’s just become a really great part of the team. He’s got a great personality – and from a track performance perspective, he’s done a good job in the F2 campaign this year. He’s obviously hoping to close out P2 this weekend, and I think he’ll be instrumental in driving the team forward. He’s got a very similar personality to George, and George has proved how motivating for everybody in the team, and I think Nicholas will fully mirror that next year.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Lawrence Edmonson – ESPN) A question for the whole panel: F1 is planning to become carbon neutral by 2030 but when you consider that entire countries have got a similar plan in place, is F1 being ambitious enough and is the whole sport going to face a losing battle over the next 10 years?
CW: I think the very fact that F1 have come out and launched a proposal in this area is the best starting block. I don’t think we have talked about what we do already do. I think there is a lot more that we could communicate in order to demonstrate the very fact that our sport is probably a whole lot more sustainable than the generic perception of it out there at the moment. These new hybrid engines being the perfect example. We have never talked about them being as relevant as there are. But I think that the sport does need to become a whole lot more sustainable. It’s a wider conversation in the rest of the world and it’s a very relevant and important one at the moment and this sport needs to be doing what it should be doing to tackle a whole lot of issues that we haven’t been tackling and there probably is an enormous amount of low-hanging fruit that we can all contribute to as a collective. I think as individual teams we have started down this pathway many, many years ago, but again it’s something that we don’t necessarily talk or shout about. At Williams we have a whole business division, about 350 people, that tackles or that takes some of those issues and uses battery technology in order to address them and again we should probably be doing a better job to talk about it. But I think the very fact that F1 have started this pathway and it is only the very beginning, but I think a 10-year plan is probably the right amount of time in order to tackle it.
Q: (Joost Nederpelt – NU.NL) What was your favourite moment or anecdote of the season?
CW: Mine probably, as you would expect probably, didn’t come on the circuit this year but for me, the real highlight has been our pit stop crew. You probably will track progress… unfortunately Red Bull have just pipped us to the best pit stop and crew for the year but the way that our pit stop team have worked this year has been… gives a capsule of the resilience that our team has shown throughout the entire year. They go out there each and every race and fight for our drivers and for the rest of the team like they’re fighting for podium position and that for me has been a true highlight.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Racefans.net) Given the uncertainty of commitment of at least two teams to Formula One after 2020, should Formula One actually actively go out now and try and attract new teams?
CW: I’m not sure I know a whole level of detail about two potential teams leaving this sport but clearly we want a grid of 10 teams. That promotes great racing and we need great racing to ensure that our fans keep tuning in and watching us and clearly we want to be growing that audience as well so whether it’s down to F1 to actively go out and promote that or whether it’s down to those teams to make sure that they secure buyers… all I can say is Williams certainly isn’t one of those teams.