Ex-Williams head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley fears things could get even worse for his former team during the 2020 Formula 1 season.

Williams suffered its worse season to date as it slipped to the bottom of the constructors’ championship in 2019, managing just a single point across the 21-round campaign in which it had by far the slowest car on the grid.

The British squad, a previously dominant force in F1, has gradually declined in competitiveness since enjoying early success in the V6 hybrid era and finishing as high as third in the championship in 2015.

Smedley, who left Williams at the end of a difficult 2018 campaign, insists there are no guarantees that things will get better in the forthcoming season.

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

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

“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 are now to suddenly arrive back in the top five of the championship, they are very much mistaken. It is just incorrect.”

Smedley is concerned that Williams will struggle to make the gains needed to improve in 2020 given its relatively small budget compared to the leading teams and described the Grove-based outfit’s fall from grace as a “tragic case”.

“You can be vehemently independent but you need a budget to be able to do it,” he explained.

“Now I’m on the outside I can hope, but when I was on the inside I didn’t want to just hope. It’s a tragic case. I’m not of the generation that can’t remember when Williams won a world championship.

“To see the decline there, it’s heartbreaking really as a Formula 1 fan.”