Robert Kubica has described the FW42 as a huge step forward compared to the team’s 2018 car, according to chief technical officer Paddy Lowe.
Williams was late to pre-season testing in Barcelona due to delays with its 2019 car, completing just 88 laps at the end of last week. While Kubica has spoken publicly of his frustration at the lost track time ahead of the Australian Grand Prix in just over two weeks, Lowe says the private feedback has been encouraging for the team.
“Pace, I am not going to comment because that is a dynamic thing,” Lowe said. “We have to wait until Australia — or beyond, because Australia itself is a rather unusual circuit — to see how it plays out. That is one of the excitements of this time of the year. Reliability I think we’ve been showing that in the days we’ve been running we are where we need to be.
“The next aspect would be the quality of the car. Robert in particular has a lot of experience with last year’s car compared to George (Russell) who only had a brief run; and Robert has driven the old car a lot around here last year, he had some very encouraging comments on the qualities of the car.
“He feels that we’ve made a huge step forward in terms of the platform with a car that is far more driveable and a car that you can work with from a driving point of view. You can control your management of tires and control the balance and the pace — which was definitely not a description we could give to last year’s car. That is very encouraging.
“It doesn’t talk about speed but it talks about a platform, and that it was one of our major objectives over the winter — to design and implement a process within our engineering that would make cars with better properties and then go and deliver those better properties. That is a good step for us and a better foundation to move forward to the next stage.”
Ahead of the final day of pre-season testing, Williams is just 44 laps shy of the Racing Point total so far despite its late start. Lowe — who would not be drawn on the reasons for the car delay last week — says the strong running since the car arrived in Barcelona means there is little of the test program that has yet to be completed.
“We are doing very well in terms of mileage and rate of learning. We did miss two-and-a-half days and that did put us on the back foot but barring that issue, since last Thursday we’ve had very, very strong reliability and achieved the program that we set out to do each day. So if all goes well … we have Robert in tomorrow doing his qualifying and race distances to mirror (Thursday).
“If we stay on this plan we will have done the same mileage by the end of tomorrow and consumed all sets of tires available that we would have had for the full eight days. Actually, a lot of the limitation in pre-season testing is the number of new sets of tires that you have available. In general to do an experiment you need new tires, so that becomes one of your primary limitations. In terms of mileage and number of experiments we will have achieved the same amount as we originally intended.
“I guess the major disadvantage is what we do at night is analyze what we’ve learned from the data we gather and invent different tests and different experiments for the next day in the context of these new regulations. (That is) a very exciting period of development, particularly for the aerodynamicists who are making the car quicker every day with the rate of learning that we can achieve from track work.
“Inevitably we’ve got a couple less of those learning loops that we’ve had compared to the other competition.”
Despite Lowe’s comments, Russell says there is no getting away from the team’s position in the pecking order heading into the final day of testing.
“I’d be lying if I said we were not the slowest at the moment,” Russell said. “That is a reality. It is clear we have some work to do, but what was very positive is that we made a big step from when I jumped into the car on Tuesday, (and) made a step since Robert was in the car yesterday. Hopefully when he jumps in again tomorrow, we will find another step. We understand the issues; we recognize that, and we are doing everything we can to rectify it.”