Williams deputy team boss Claire Williams admits she is still getting over the "enormous shock" as to just how bad the British squad's 2018 season has been.
With the arrival of former Mercedes chief Paddy Lowe last March, this was meant to be the year that Williams turned around their recent trend of falling down the Constructors' Championship and started building the foundation for a stronger future.
Instead, the FW41 car was struck by multiple flaws as Lowe tried to incorporate a new design philosophy, leaving Williams at the back of the grid.
“It’s been an enormous shock actually, I fully expected to come into this year in a much better place," Williams said talking to Formula1.com.
"I think we all did, and probably a lot of fans of ours around the world thought that we were going to be coming out with a much quicker race car.
“That was the expectation, so when we got to testing, we didn’t even have to wait till Australia to really realise that that wasn’t the case and as the season has progressed, certainly in the earlier races, it was an enormous shock.”
The Grove-based team has scored just seven points all season and sit bottom of the teams' standings, 26 points off the next best team Toro Rosso.
“I couldn’t quite believe that Williams was repeatedly finding itself down at the bottom of the grid, either in qualifying or the race and I don’t think I’ve quite gotten over that shock yet," Williams continued.
“All I know is that there are two races to go and I can’t wait until the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi, if I’m allowed to say that.”
A number of team personnel have left with the latest being head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley, who announced he will take a break from F1 next year.
Despite that, the attitude of those within Williams has at least been a bright spot for the daughter of founder Sir Frank.
“Clearly there are a number of issues at play but I’m not a one to air dirty laundry,” she said. “One of the things that I’m proudest of this year is that the team has really stuck together.
“We could have imploded, we could have all started a load of in-fighting, we could have sacked half the people, but that’s not the way that I wanted this to play out.
“Of course we’ve had conversations, and we know the clear areas of weakness," Claire added. “Probably aero we went wrong with, cooling we went wrong with, but there are many other factors at play.
“You don’t find yourself sliding back from P5 to P10 in the championship without a lot of other things at play as well.
“It’s not just about how we went about designing our race car over the winter.”
All attention is set on avoiding a repeat performance next year, although Williams wasn't sure if that could be ruled out.
“All I can say is we’re doing every single thing possible to make sure that we address every single problem that we have in this team in order to make sure 2019 is better for us," she stated.
“But if it’s not, at least I know that we’re setting ourselves up for certainly a better future beyond that.”
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