In an interview with Autosport yesterday, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley believes that despite falling off the pace last weekend in Hungary, second in the Championship is “still achievable.”
In recent weeks, Williams have been arguably the second best team on the grid, leading the charge ahead of Red Bull and Ferrari. But that ended last weekend in Hungary when the FW36 lacked the pace on the tight, twisty circuit. As such Williams finished off the podium for the first time in four races and dropped to third in the Championship, seven points behind Ferrari.
In his interview with Autosport yesterday, Smedley believes it is only a matter of time before Williams overhaul Ferrari and hunt down Red Bull. Smedley stated the following:-
‘Our target is to be second in the Championship and that’s still achievable. I think we had a race that was a little bit anomalous if you look at our results over the last five races. We’ve got two races [Spa and Monza] coming up where we’ve got to capitalise on the characteristics of the car. We think those circuits will suit us. We have to capitalise on that and put ourselves in a good position.’
Even though Williams did not perform well last weekend in Hungary, it is clear that Williams when they have the opportunity to get a good result can deliver. I think that their target of achieving second in the Championship can be achieved but I feel that a lot of hard work is needed in order for them to achieve it.
But let us not forget that Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari will also be improving and pushing to achieve the best results possible too and Williams will have to try and do the best they can with the upgrades that they will bring throughout the remainder of the season ahead.
As Smedley has stated, if he and the Williams team believe that Spa and Monza will benefit their car, then they have to ensure that they work towards capitalising on that and go out on the track and push for the best result that they can.
Further on in his interview, at a time when the development war is set to heat up, Smedley is confident Williams have what it takes to keep pace. Smedley added the following:-
‘Development speed and testing methodology has improved and allowed us to keep pace with the others, or even get ahead of them at times. At the track, testing and racing, we’re making steady progress. There are big areas we’ve looked into and we have a certain evolving structure we’re improving all the time.
‘Certain things you want on the car have a long lead time and you can’t have them at the next race, or even until the next year. Some of it with the operations group you can solve in 10 minutes and some of it you need a lot longer. It’s a constant juggling act.’
As Smedley rightly points out further on in his interview, developing a car throughout the course of a long season is tough but Williams this season so far has managed to keep up so far with the rest of the grid. There is no denying that within pre-season testing for example that Williams put on a reliable, consistent and competitive performance that showed what they are capable of and have made steady progress as a result.
Even though Smedley calls it a “juggling act”, he is realistic at what he would to put on the car. But he also knows that sometimes you may have to wait for these improvements even though he knows that sometimes they are needed. But the main thing is that if they can get onto the car eventually and improves performance, then that is all that matters.
In regards to what Smedley has stated yesterday, even though second in the Constructors is not yet mathematically impossible for them to obtain, it will be difficult for Williams to achieve it. Every team on the grid will be looking to improve as much as possible during the second half of the season and all the Williams team under Smedley can do is ensure that they bring efficient upgrades and make the best out of them on the track.
But can Williams achieve second place in the Constructors this season? I feel that it is possible, but Williams will have a fight on their hands to order to obtain it from Red Bull or Ferrari. But the Williams team will fight until the very last moment trying to achieve it. All we can do is see what happens at the final race in Abu Dhabi.