Williams Racing has been struggling ever since 2017, but in 2020 there is still something they haven’t yet accomplished: scoring a point.
For most of Williams’s storied history, they have never gone a full season without scoring at least one championship point; the only time they ever went a season without scoring a point was in 1977, Williams’s first season ever on the grid.
Last season, Robert Kubica‘s 10th place at Germany was good enough for the team’s one and only point all season, as the team’s rookie driver George Russell had struggled, scoring a best finish of 11th.
In 2020, the team welcomed former F2 driver Nicholas Latifi to the team to pair with Russell. In Latifi’s first race with the team at Austria, he managed an 11th-place finish by staying out trouble and avoiding all the carnage. In the British Grand Prix, Russell would manage a P12, sadly getting beat out by a few faster cars.
As a backmarker, it’s particularly hard to compete with a lot of the faster teams and as a result, the team always need misfortune to strike faster cars. In Monza, Latifi took advantage of the safety cars and fell just short of 10th place. A week later in Tuscany, Russell would do the same, avoiding the wrecks and taking advantage of the safety cars. However, he would fall short to Sebastian Vettel.
In the tour’s final stop in Italy at Imola, Russell appeared to be cruising to a points finish only to wreck himself under the yellow flag. Teammate Latifi tried to chase down Antonio Giovanazzi for the final points spot, but would lose out by under a second.
Russell’s heartbreaker at Imola was tough to watch. Fellow drivers Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton expressed their sympathies to Russell, urging him to keep pushing, look past the mistakes and that the points will come soon. All the trials and tribulations experienced as a driver make those first points taste even sweeter when finally accomplished .
For the backmarker teams, scoring points isn’t half as easy as Hamilton makes it look. The teams are often driving with weaker and more worn engines, lesser engineering and little to no factory support. The teams like Haas and Williams do their best with what they are given but even with experienced drivers, points are still hard to come by.
The crushing end to the Imola race serves as just another kick in the gut to Williams, who have been doing pretty much everything they can to succeed. This season the team was sold and lost their title sponsor ahead of the season opener. They scrambled to find the funding to keep the team running and their results have definitely improved due to the stability they found.
Russell’s results have been not indicative of a Williams driver, far surpassing what was thought could be done in that car. Latifi has been consistent, running at the finish of all but one grands prix. It’s only a matter of time before the team finally breaks through, as both their drivers are knocking on the door. With Sahkir and Turkey being the two remaining wild cards, it’s very likely that they could do it at either one of those circuits.
Then again the way 2020 has been going, don’t count out the Williams car at any track. Anything can happen on any given race day.