Former Williams Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley says the team is mistaken if they think 2020 cannot get worse than 2019, adding his experience tells him it can actually get much worse.
As Felipe Massa’s race engineer at Ferrari, Smedley joined Williams along with the Brazilian driver in 2014. The team then went through a resurgence in 2014 and 2015, finishing third in the Constructors’ Championship, but then the slow decline began. The Briton left Williams at the end of 2018 and the team’s problems culminated in 2019 with only a single point scored – the team’s worst result to date. Smedley thinks things can get even worse than that.
“There would always be a philosophy that it can’t get any worse,” said the Briton.
“Having been around the block a few times in motorsport, and Formula One in particular, (I know) the reality is it can get worse than this.
“We talk about how it can’t get much worse than 2019, but we said that about 2018. And we said that about 2017. The reality is that 2020 can actually be worse than 2019.
“Anyone who thinks that you can turn things around from where Williams are now to suddenly arrive back in the top five of the championship, they are very much mistaken. It is just incorrect.”
Smedley goes on to say that Williams’ “old fashioned notion of ‘we’re a racing team and we only exist to race'” doesn’t apply anymore in modern Formula 1.
“You can be vehemently independent but you need a budget to be able to do it,” he explained.
However the Briton says he still has “huge affection” for the struggling team.
“Now I’m on the outside I can hope, but when I was on the inside I didn’t want to just hope.
“It’s a tragic case. I’m not of the generation that can’t remember when Williams won a world championship.
“To see the decline there, it’s heartbreaking really as a Formula One fan,” concluded Smedley.