Williams technical director Paddy Lowe was expected to take Williams to the next level, but the first effort at putting out a decent car under his watch has proved to be a disaster for the once mighty team, sinking them to their lowest level in memory.
Lowe arrived with pedigree, having started with Williams in 1987 before he joined McLaren in 1993 where he rose through the ranks to become technical director at Woking before he departed to join Mercedes in 2013.
Replacing Ross Brawn, he was part of the leadership that created the mega-team that the Silver Arrows has become.
His move to Williams early last year was expected to herald a new era of technical excellence at Grove, with highly rated Dirk de Beer joining the team from Ferrari. But instead of progress the team has been in sharp decline with very little light at the end of a long tunnel.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the FW41 lemon they produced, the fall-guys have fallen and now Lowe remains standing with nowhere to hide.
When asked if he was amid the toughest challenge of his impressive career, he replied, “In many aspects, yes.”
“There have been some other challenges I faced on different occasions, but this is a new challenge for me anyway. Through the years I’ve been fortunate in my career not to work in a team that wasn’t part or within reach of the front, performance wise,” the 56-year-old told Motorsport Network.
“That is where we were always playing, in the top ten and towards the front of top 10 or at the very front end. It is a new experience for me to work in a team, which has a lot of work to do to get back to where we want to be.”
“So that creates some new challenges for me personally, and I am learning all the time. Some things you get right, some things, if I had my last year again, I would do differently. But I think that is the nature of life.”
“You face challenges and you learn from them and hope that that builds your experience to do a better job next time.”
Williams have huge pedigree in Formula 1 with 114 grand prix victories since their debut in the top flight back in 1975, their collection of nine Formula 1 constructors’ titles is only bettered by Ferrari.
Lowe cites this and winning potential of the team as his source of inspiration, “I think the more we get into understanding where we are, and why, and what is not working, I think the more positive that makes me feel about the progress that we can make.”
“We’ve got a great team, you know. There are some great creative people back at Grove. And I think if we can work in the right direction, which we are now turning round to do, I think we can make some really good progress.”
“I think as we get to this point of the year, which is common with all the teams, the focus goes very much more on the current car towards pieces and developments which are also relevant into next year,” said Lowe about his team’s mindset on this front.
“I think we are definitely moving into that mode now with this car, which should be common with the other teams I would expect.
“Because although the rules are changing for next year quite significantly, there are still many aspects of the car for which the development and the learning on this car will still carry across.
“So, for instance, we probably won’t do a lot of work on front wing endplates for the rest of this year, but that’s because it’s a big change for next year,” concluded Lowe.
Big Question: Is Paddy Lowe the man to revive Williams to become title contenders and race winners again?