SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Once dominant Williams, now languishing at the bottom of the Formula One standings, echoed rivals McLaren on Friday in saying it could be years before they are again a force to be reckoned with.
The two most successful British teams in the sport’s history, with 17 constructors’ and 19 drivers championships between them, have not won a race since 2012 and face major challenges.
Sixth-placed McLaren have undergone several restructurings, with racing director Eric Boullier the latest to leave this week.
Team boss Zak Brown said at the British Grand Prix that it could be years before they can fight for titles again and Williams deputy principal Claire Williams agreed her team was in a similar situation.
Now 10th, and with only four points collected from nine races, Williams have plenty on their plate.
“Of course, in order to effect change you need to make changes and sometimes you need to make some hard decisions,” said Williams.
“We’re going through that process at the moment but it’s not a case of rushing into it. So we’re undertaking full evaluation of our internal structures and processes.”
The problems are mainly aerodynamic, with the team’s Mercedes engines considered the best on the grid, but other issues have also surfaced.
“As we’ve gone through this recovery programme, we’ve identified a number of other weaknesses within the car and the team itself,” she said. “You always find other fires that you’ve got to put out.
“Zak was talking earlier about two to 10 years. This isn’t going to be the work of a moment for us, unfortunately.”
There would also be revenue ramifications, with a loss of prize money and title sponsor Martini departing at the end of the year.
“Finding sponsors when you are in P10 is not going be an easy piece of work for us,” added Williams.
Silverstone has seen plenty of celebrations for the team over the years, including a first win in 1979 and 100th in 1997, but Williams admitted she had been dreading coming back.
“This is our home race, there are a lot of Williams fans here and we’ve let our fans down,” she said, adding, however, that the experience had been surprisingly positive.
“Just being here among the British fans has given us a real boost,” she said.
“I’m not saying that Sunday is going to be a turnaround in our performance, it’s still going to be a long road for us, but hopefully we will do a better job for our fans here this weekend.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond