Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe admitted that the team have a disadvantage with regard to their lineup for the upcoming season. The Williams 2018 lineup consists of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, the youngest partnership on the grid. Stroll debuted in Formula 1 with Williams in 2017 and took several races to get up to speed. During the period where he was still finding his feet, the Canadian came under heavy criticism. He was even branded as a ‘pay driver’, which was true in a sense as his father’s connections were partially responsible for Lance winning the seat.
Lowe admitted that Stroll’s inexperience put him in a position where he couldn’t fully exploit the potential of the FW40. The Williams chief technical officer said, “Some of it was down to error here and there. Operational issues, some of which was reliability which was not as good as we’d like. Some of it is the driver not being able to exploit the car that is available. That’s pretty obvious in Lance’s case [in 2017]. He was getting up to speed in his first year of Formula 1, so that was all part of the process with him. [It] inevitably meant we weren’t scoring quite what we should and could have done.”
Stroll picked up his first championship points in his home race in Montreal in Round 7. Two weeks later, the Canadian found himself on the podium in Baku. He was the only non-Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull driver to finish in the top three all year. Lowe insisted, “There were some terrific examples of Lance’s talent. We don’t have the resources of those teams at the front. But we can always do more with what we have and then take it from there. Success breeds more success because it brings rewards and that’s the way forward.” He also alluded to Stroll’s maiden front row grid spot in a wet Monza qualifying later in the season.
This year, Williams signed another rookie, Sergey Sirotkin for the upcoming season, thus completing the Williams 2018 lineup. Lowe said, “It’s not a short game, but I don’t want to call it a long game either. We have to take it step-by-step, we have to make a better car this year and then see where that takes us. That’s the challenge. I don’t think that’s any different to how it has always been in Formula 1. That’s why you have seen teams come and go around the front when they get that right or they get it wrong.”
Meanwhile, 1992 champion Nigel Mansell believes that the young pairing for the Grove-based team isn’t necessarily a bad call.