F1 2019 Pre-Season Report: Williams

A dismal 2018 has put pressure on Williams to up its game this year, with Robert Kubica and George Russell at the wheel.

The Williams FW42 car pictured during the F1 Winter Testing at Circuit de Catalunya.   -  REUTERS

Ahead of the opening race of the 2019 Formula One season in Australia on March 17, we take a look at how Williams is shaping up for the new campaign.

HOW DID IT PERFORM IN 2018?

Last season was a dismal one for Williams, as it finished 10th in the constructors' championship, kept off the bottom only by the former Force India team, which was stripped of all its points.

Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin combined for only three top-10 finishes across the 21 races, with two of those coming at the same race, in Italy.

The team finished third in the constructors' championship in its first season using Mercedes power in 2014 but has suffered a year-on-year decline ever since.

Williams ended the last campaign with seven points - its worst tally since 2013.

THE 2019 LINE-UP

Robert Kubica

This season marks an emotional return to F1 for Kubica, who last lined up on the grid in 2010. The Polish driver suffered a partial amputation of his forearm in a rally crash ahead of the 2011 F1 season, but successful surgery enabled him to make an unlikely return to motorsport.

Kubica's determination to make his F1 comeback saw him recruited as a test driver by Williams last year, missing out on the race seat to Sirotkin, but he is now ready to repay the team's faith after being handed a senior drive.

George Russell

Williams has a reputation for identifying promising British talent, with Jenson Button, Damon Hill and David Coulthard all having spent time with the team early in their F1 careers.

Russell won Formula 2 last year and will hope to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessors. Having an experienced team-mate like Kubica should help the 21-year-old find his feet in his rookie campaign.

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THE TO-DO LIST

- This already feels like it could be a year of damage limitation for Williams, after arriving late for pre-season testing and struggling to get anywhere near the pace. Being race-ready for the opener in Melbourne seems like a good place to start.

- In Kubica's case, he needs to show that his selection goes beyond sentiment, and that he can still be competitive.

HOW WILL IT FARE?

Anything above the bottom of the constructors' standings will be a bonus for Williams, whose closest challenger in 2018, Toro Rosso, scored almost five times as many points.

A return to the Williams glory days looks unlikely any time soon.

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