Williams have been in the Formula 1 doldrums for a number of years - ever since their 2018 challenger proved off the pace before the relative disaster of '19 fed into their first-ever pointless campaign in '20.
While on-track performance nose-dived, changes were afoot off-track. Sir Frank Williams elected to sell his eponymous team in the summer of 2020, having realised American venture capitalists Dorilton Capital were in a far better place to restore this great team to something mirroring respectability.
But times remained hard throughout 2021 - with the passing of Williams aged 79 - but there were also signs of a recovery.
Then driver George Russell was a Q2 regular and sometimes Q3 troubler as the team began to modernise and adapt 'the Williams way' to the demands of modern Grand Prix racing.
The team had finished eighth in the 2021 standings with 23 points - helped via Russell's stunning P2 in the abandoned Belgian GP after an impressive qualifying display the day before.
In 2022, with the new generation of F1 cars, the squad dipped to P10 and last in the Constructors' standings with just eight points to their name.
However, as Team Principal Jost Capito exclusively tells RacingNews365.com, there is more to Williams' season than what the history books will record.
Capito: Key difference is level of expectation
Capito sat down with RacingNews365.com in Abu Dhabi at the end of his first full season in charge, having taken over Team Principal duties from Simon Roberts in mid-2021.
The German offered an optimistic outlook for the team - especially over how they managed to score their eight points.
"Last year, everybody was happy if we got into Q2, now everybody is not satisfied if we can't get into Q3," Capito explained.
"They will see the difference in that the expectations of the team are rising - and that is a must if you want to be competitive. The expectations must be high.
"[Although] we are 10th in the championship, [the high point for us] is [scoring] the points we did on merit, and not like last year when we were a bit lucky to get most of our points, like at Spa.
"This year, we got the points on merit and were consistently getting into Q2 and stretching for Q3.
"To progress through the season from where we started, to where we ended up after our upgrade [introduced at Silverstone], was okay for us."
Capito buoyed by Williams' operational gains
Despite not always having the technical package they wanted in 2022, Williams were as sharp as ever operationally when it came to calling race strategies.
This was most prudent in Australia and Japan where Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi, respectively were able to make the best of calls to secure unlikely points.
Albon ran almost non-stop in Melbourne, only pitting to exchange the Hards in his mandatory stop on the final lap and came home 10th, while Latifi banked two points at a sodden Suzuka after the team were among the first to switch from full Wet tyres to Intermediates.
It is this aspect of the season that Capito is most proud of.
"I see the working of the race team, and we had brilliant strategy," he explains.
"We never did a real mistake all season and what is really good is the communication within the team and the trust that is now [developing].
"Coming in as team principal and having a new sporting director (former World Rally ace Sven Smeets) coming in... it is disturbing [for the team] because I want things done different to what [the team is used to] and then the sporting director brings different things.
"You have to live together, and you have to form the team.
"We are now there where everybody enjoys [what they do] and we can take risky strategies - and there is the trust of management backing it up even if it goes wrong.
"It is much more fun working here now than before."
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What next for Williams?
Capito revealed that Williams had not gone into the 2022 campaign with any targets, owing to the uncertainty of the new regulations, except one: to be better at the end than the start.
"You could not expect anything," he says when asked about the pre-season targets at Grove.
"The target we had was how to improve during the season from wherever we started - that was the objective and the only thing you can really measure, and we achieved that.
And going into the 2023 season - with rookie Logan Sargeant set to partner Albon - Capito remains firm that this will remain Williams' overriding objective.
"We don't put it on championship position," he explains about how Williams form their pre-season goals.
"We put it on competitiveness compared to others at the races.
"You can be lucky with the points, if there is a crash and you get the points, and that is great, but for sure we aim higher than 10th [in the Constructors'] and again how many positions can be improve on throughout the season?
"This kind of objective setting has worked well for us this year, but it is different for the top teams.
"They are aiming for championship, and it wouldn't make sense for us now when you see how close the midfield is.
"You can be as competitive as you are, but still two positions behind or higher, it is gambling.
"But if you compare the competitiveness to the field [overall], then it is an objective measurement [for progress]."
Part two of our exclusive interview with Jost Capito will be focused on Williams' drivers and how close Nyck De Vries came to not finishing in Italy.
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