Williams told 2020 'can be worse' as Brundle tells Claire to 'move upstairs'

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Williams' situation this year "can be worse" than in 2019, former head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley has warned.

The Grove-based squad is facing its most difficult period in over 40 competing in Formula 1 with last season the worst in its history with just a single point to their name.

This followed a year that was compromised from the beginning as their 2019 car wasn't ready for pre-season testing and could not compete with the rest of the grid, sometimes finishing over a second behind the next best team.

Gradually, progress was made and figures within the team do believe 2020 will be better, but Smedley believes assuming Williams can't fall further would be a mistake.

“There would always be a philosophy that it can’t get any worse,” he told Reuters.

“Having been around the block a few times in motorsport, and Formula 1 in particular, (I know) the reality is it can get worse than this.

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“We talk about how it can’t get much worse than 2019, but we said that about 2018 and we said that about 2017. The reality is that 2020 can actually be worse than 2019.

“Anyone who thinks that you can turn things around from where Williams is now to suddenly arrive back in the top five of the championship, they are very much mistaken. It is just incorrect.”

Smedley, who left the team after 2018, described Williams' situation as "tragic" and "heartbreaking" and now Sky Sports pundit Martin Brundle has suggested change must come at the top, essentially calling on deputy team boss Claire Williams to step aside.

“I’m not [in charge], and you don’t know what you don’t know [the situation]," he told Motorsport Magazine.

“But I would ask Claire to move upstairs into a more presidential role and get in somebody like Andreas Seidl and give them full autonomy. F1 success is all about tomorrow, not yesterday.”

The daughter of team founder Sir Frank Williams remains steadfast, however, insisting the team is slowly getting back on the right track.

“I think everyone knows, as I’ve talked about it until I’m blue in the face, the amount of work behind the scenes,” she told Motorsport Week at an event unveiling Roy Nissany as test driver in Israel on Wednesday.

“It’s still for me a point of frustration that we’re not able to invite everyone in [to the factory] and show everyone the transformation that has taken place at Williams.

“What I’ve always said is it’s going to be a journey, we started it last year, we started seeing the grass shoots, if you like, in the latter half of the year when we were closing the gap steadily but there’s only so much you can do in the course of a season anyway.

“We set ourselves some really tough targets over the winter around aero in particular, about finding performance, and then on some mechanical issues as well and those have been going well.”

The 2020 car has been confirmed as passing the mandatory FIA crash tests first time, something Williams revealed took upto six attempts last year.

And now all eyes are being ready to hit the track for pre-season testing in Barcelona on February 19.

“I have absolute confidence that will happen," Claire stated.

“As everyone knows, we brought in a whole new planning function last year that works from the start of the process, to the beginnings of the start in aero, right to the end of car assembly.

“We’ve built ourselves a huge amount of contingency. There's time to ensure that if something does go wrong, you know we’re OK and we’ve got some cover there.

“We all just want to come out and show that we’ve done a good job and for people to be able to turn round and go: 'OK, right. We got it wrong, Williams weren’t on their way out and two years didn’t need to define them and look what they’ve done'," she concluded.