After finishing last in the constructors’ championship for three years in a row, Williams rose to eighth place in the 2021 standings as the team enjoyed its most successful season since 2017.
Williams ended a points drought dating back to Germany 2019 by finishing seventh and eighth in Hungary, capitalising on a race of attrition and the first-lap crashes to get both Nicholas Latifi and George Russell into the points.
Russell would score further points in Belgium, Italy and Russia, and picked up the team’s first podium since Azerbaijan 2017 by taking second place in the rain-marred Spa race.
Williams team principal and CEO Capito said the results in the summer races were “not expected”, but that its near misses in the races leading up to that had provided added motivation to the entire team after spending the previous two years largely adrift from the field.
“When we started to have 11th position, and we see that we can race with some cars in the midfield, of course it gives a boost as well,” Capito told Autosport/Motorsport.com.
“You move more and you improve more if you’re in the position that you can fight with other cars and race others. And this is also what we found with race drivers: they’ve got a completely different motivation if they’re just running around at the back of the field or if they can be in a fight.
“At Barcelona, it was the fight with George and Fernando [Alonso] which was fantastic and gave George so much confidence that the car is not that bad and that we can achieve points. The team then believes that.
“Of course with Barcelona, we benefitted from the first corner. But you still have to run through that and you still have to finish the race and keep that position.”
Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW43B, George Russell, Williams FW43B
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Russell came close to scoring points at Paul Ricard, the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone, but it was at the Hungaroring where Williams finally made its breakthrough.
“I think the team has done some very brave decisions in Budapest on tyre choices, as well to keep that position,” Capito said.
“So the team has to have the feeling that it is on merit, and I believe that it is on merit, because if you are in the position to take the points and you can’t take them, then you haven’t done your job,” Capito said.
“But as we were in the position to take the points, and finish in the points with both cars, then we started saying ‘OK, can we do more?’. And then in a couple of races with points, it was really good.”