Robert Kubica believes Williams’ latest technical struggles are not directly comparable to its 2018 woes and says the team is plainly aware of its lack of grip and downforce which is restraining its efforts.

After cancelling a shakedown day and missing the first two-and-a-half days of Formula 1 pre-season testing due to build issues with its FW42, Williams has remained horribly off the pace of the field leaving the Polish driver and rookie teammate George Russell in an exclusive battle at the back of the grid.

While Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc set a pole position time of 1m 27.866s at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Kubica was almost four seconds slower, with Russell just 0.040s quicker, which has led to both drivers accepting they are testing rather than racing over the opening rounds.

Kubica, who acted as third and reserve driver at Williams last year, says the unpredictable nature of it’s 2018 F1 car hasn’t necessarily carried over into its new car and the team is aware its lacking grip and downforce which can only be resolved through upgrades.

“In some ways it’s easier problems to solve as you know the area and you know what’s lacking,” Kubica assessed. “Last year it was much more complicated, the limitation of the car were changing and was very inconsistent.

“But from the other hand it’s difficult to change something in a couple of months if you arrive with this, it’s difficult as we struggle to create, to put the grip into the car, the downforce, and there is always a reason but it’s true also that you need to unthink new ideas or something that could unlock a lot of improvements. We just need to make sure it will happen and as soon as possible.

“I think last year the issues were completely different and were difficult to predict. It was a bigger shock why we struggled so much but there were corners where we were not struggling and the car was quite competitive.”

Despite knowing where Williams has been lacking, and duly making management changes with Paddy Lowe taking a leave of absence as team co-founder Sir Patrick Head is called on to provide technical guidance as a consultant, Kubica accepts the team faces a long struggle to cure its performance problems and cut the deficit to the rest of the F1 grid.

“I was not expecting to struggle with other issues we faced from Barcelona,” he said. “From the performance point of view I would say it’s the same as what we’ve seen in the windtunnel and everything. Then of course you never know what will happen with the other [teams].

“If the others keep the same performance as last year we will be more behind than last year from our numbers, data and simulation. This is more or less what happened.”