It was no secret that Williams struggled in the 2019 season. The pinnacle of their season was a measly 10th placed finish, secured at the German Grand Prix, amidst the chaos and joy that other teams faced.
George Russell managed to show his potential in an underwhelming car which may have provided the team with a crumb of comfort. However, it is something that they know could come to an end in the near future if their misfortunes continue, with the possibility of him being recalled by Mercedes not unthinkable.
There is a serious concern that the 2020 season could be a carbon copy of what 2019 held for the Williams team.
Money comes and goes
One of the biggest challenges of recent history for Williams is their finances. It is public knowledge that they have had their fair share of ‘pay drivers’ in the past few years including, Pastor Maldonado and Sergey Sirotkin, who have both provided funds in exchange for a seat at the team, ahead of potentially some more talented drivers who don’t have that financial backing.
Williams have five drivers currently on their books. The two main drivers are Russell and taking over from the departing Robert Kubica is Canadian F2 stalwart Nicholas Latifi. Latifi is son of Canadian businessman Michael Latifi, owner of Sofina Foods inc.
The three test drivers that are signed are DAMS F2 racer and former Red Bull junior driver Dan Ticktum, who has showed promise in junior formula and Jack Aitken. However, the third driver has left people scratching their head.
Roy Nissany, currently racing in F2 for Campos, has been lined up as the second test driver. The name, Nissany, has graced the F1 track once before in the form of his father Chanoch, who struggled as a test driver following his outings with Jordan and Minardi in 2004 and 2005.
The Israeli-French driver only managed to hit the heights of a fourth place finish in the Renault V8 3.5 series back in 2016, leading many to speculate that the primary reason he has been bought in ahead of anyone else is to secure more funding.
With the loss of Polish driver Kubica, the team also lost a large portion of their funding going into 2020. The money was coming from a personal sponsor of Kubica’s in PKL Orlen, an oil refinery company based in Poland. Since leaving Williams, the Pole has moved on to be test driver at Alfa Romeo, taking the sponsorship with him.
Latifi has been part of the furniture in F2 since its inception along with being part of the GP2 set up since 2014. The Canadian has had F1 intertwined with his junior career, participating in test driver opportunities with Renault, Force India, Racing Point and Williams.
The 2019 season was easily the highlight of his time in the championship, finishing second behind Dutchman Nyck De Vries. However, it is still yet to be seen if this gives him a genuine shot at the top level.
Ticktum, despite being only 20 years of age, has already had a very eventful life in motorsport. During his time MSA formula, Ticktum was given a two year suspended ban, following a more than dangerous move under the safety car. 2018 was by far the most eye catching of his career so far, getting his second win of the famed Macau Grand Prix, following on from his win the year before in 2017.
Alongside his triumph in Asia he also managed to finish second in the European Formula Three championship. During a brief spell in the Red Bull driver program he also ventured into Japanese Super Formula, however poor results would see him lose his drive. The 2020 season will see him join DAMS in his first extended taste of Formula Two.
As touched on, Nissany hasn’t exactly had the greatest fortunes in recent years. Having participated In 20 races during the 2018 season of Formula 2, he accumulated one point and finished 22nd in the standings. Funding may have been an incentive in signing the Israeli, however he will be hoping he can add more to the team behind the scenes than he had shown in a difficult 2018 campaign.
The newest addition to the Williams line up is Jack Aitken, formerly of the Renault young driver program. Aitken has had, by far the best displays in the junior formulas. He came second in his debut season in GP3 which spurred on a move to GP2 the next season, where he would finish a respectable 11th in the championship, before bettering it with his 2019 result of fifth in the standings. Given his performances in GP2 over the last two years, it is easy to say that he holds great promise.
It will be interesting to see how the season is set to pan out for the strugglers of the 2019 season, however with a strong driver line-up they will be looking for improvements upon the previous term.