How Williams will win again

Back in 2014 Williams were the only team that could be considered reasonable competition to the dominance of the Silver Arrows in the first half of the season. Their strong suit was (and still is) low downforce, mainly because they haven’t the budget to develop useful downforce without drag, and no better a place to demonstrate this advantage had been at the Red Bull Ring 2014. Indeed many commented that they should’ve won that race but seemed too happy to play it safe with a strategy that would only guarantee a podium spot and not the top step. Perhaps the drought of wins (not counting Pastor Maldonado’s freak victory in Spain) had been too long for the Grove outfit.

Then in 2015 for both Austrian and British GP’s, Felipe Massa secured third place- the two Williams cars showing to their advantage early in the Grand Prix at Silverstone before the Mercedes duo Hamilton and Rosberg finally showed their advantage. Hamilton in particular making a brilliant well timed call for the correct tyre in mixed conditions in the latter stages.

But this year, the team have again tried to add downforce and plainly gone backwards. The results of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, despite the Finn podium in Canada, remain below the Williams expectations.

“After Canada, we expected much better…. working all night, we did not asleep!” Rob Smedley, Williams head of performance told AUTO weekly.

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“We still have not got the points that we could and should have, but our pace is reasonable … In Canada, we beat Red Bull because our car was better, and the next races in Spielberg and Silverstone should favour our car. Our ambition is to get closer to Mercedes and Ferrari, teams with far more resources.”

With Ferrari under delivering with both car and strategy this year, coupled with Mercedes unreliability, team and driver errors, Smedley see’s a real opportunity.

“The mentality of winning is what we are to putting in place within the team … We should not only building a winning car, but it is also a state of mind. It we must regain our winning mentality.”


16 responses to “How Williams will win again

  1. A fresh young talent would be a good idea for them – ditch both drivers and get Button and Ocon (?) or someone like that.
    As for the design office, I think they need someone like Allison to restructure that.

    • Hi Verstappen, maybe I’m being affected by Max-itis, but what about Lance Stroll and Jenson Button perhaps? Youth and experience. Pace and knowledge. Seems like it could be a good combination to me, Stroll would benefit from having Jenson, and Williams would benefit (cha-ching $$$, would help the development of the car, hiring of personnel) from having Stroll. Too soon – what the hell is nowadays!!!

      • I’d expect Bottas to stay, but Massa may find himself on the leave — any potential he might have had has been squandered by now. Button may still find his way into the Williams retirement garage…

      • I’m not buying this “pace and knowledge” speak. f1 has demonstrated that inexperienced drivers can be quicker. just have to find the fastest talent. williams already have decades of experience in f1. it would be sad to see them be buttons retirement account.

        • I see what you mean. I remember Barichello talking about helping Honda with their driveability (engine wise) but I’m not sure if that’s really the case. There were the famous ,5 seconds Alonso claimed to bring McLaren but indeed there is a vision that development is just a task for the engineers and that any reasonable driver can sort things out in the simulator.

          Maybe Fortis’ idea below is indeed better!

        • Hi av2290, not disagreeing with you, i’m a pace and pace man myself, fast enough is old/young/experienced enough for me 🙂
          but like landroni mentioned, it does seem to be the Williams way, can’t see them going with 2 young guns.

          I recall Pat Symonds mentioning a while back that having Massa in the team has helped Bottas out , he seemed to think Maldonado wasn’t the best of mentors for Bottas 🙂

          ok found quote:
          “With all due respect to everyone – as all the drivers in F1 are good – but with respect to Pastor, Valtteri did not have the best mentor when he came to F1. I often say that 2014 was the first real season for Valtteri, when fortunately he got a really good mentor in the form of Felipe Massa,”

          So for me they will have either Bottas or Button, can’t see it being both, but sure what do I know 🙂

    • Doesn’t Massa bring $20 million. Surely they’d they still need that. I think Bottas signed a 2 year last year, I could be wrong though, maybe it was 2 year with option on Williams side for 2nd year.

  2. Being honest, not so much that their ‘car’ was better than Red Bulls, more the power unit.
    With the resource gap between the top teams and Williams they are still doing a commendable job, all credit to them in the manner they have improved their pit stops this year in particular (nothing worse than seeing a smaller budget team manage to get ahead of the big boys on track only to lose it due to poor pit stops).

    Best bet for them should be Austria, hoping they can get in the mix there and at the least hold up some of the big boys for a bit and make the race interesting anyway. They need to be on top of their game alright over the next few races, a Nico/Lewis tussle combined with another Ferrari brainfade could indeed open the way for a surprise result.

    Realistically though keeping Force India (working wonders themselves on a less than impressive cash flow situation) behind them will be what it’s all about for the rest of the year, rather than pushing to pass Red Bull and Ferrari.

    • I agree that Williams are doing a pretty good job racing with one hand tied behind their back and if they keep hold of the Mercedes PU this will guarantee their competitiveness. Unfortunately they will never be allowed to challenge for the top step unless Nico & Lewis take each other out.

  3. Firstly, don’t Sign Button, especially when they’ve got young talents like Lynn and Evans out there and then work from there….

  4. you’re losing 3-4 tenths a lap with massa. also since their top speed is so high compared to everyone else, id say they can afford to add downforce with drag.

  5. When I look at Williams I cannot help thinking what Red Bull could have done with that motor. Sadly I also wonder if Simmonds and Smedley are not the geniuses that Frank thinks they are. I’d say that drivers are least of their problems.

  6. The Williams team of the 1990’s is a separate beast to what we see now. Far too much water has passed under the bridge to fairly compare the teams then and now.

    Williams as they stand now are something like Steven Bradbury.

    They embody the spirit of the sport (spiritual successors to the garagistes). They have a solid following of long-standing supporters. They have competed hard. They suffered tragic & heart-breaking failures. But ultimately, right now, they are simply outgunned, outhought and (mostly) outspent by the big end of town – their absolute best is probably only thereabouts.

    Short of another perfect storm style win like Maldonado’s, Williams will only stumble onto the top step again if the big teams fail in unison.

    Assuming that F1’s rigid connection between money and success continues unabated, Williams’ business plan needs to be significantly scaled up somehow to provide the flow of funds required to compete at the pointy end. Relying on pay drivers isn’t a sustainable plan. The point is though that motorsport (and motoring generally, probably) is on the decline in relative terms, so expanding their business a tough gig – not impossible though. I know they are into battery technology etc. Lets hope that kicks some serious goals for them.

    Back in the day, an F1 team could roll the dice, turn the wick up and maybe jag a win by trading engine reliability for a power advantage on a targeted weekend (say Monza). I can almost guarantee that MB contractually forbid their customer teams for messing with PU settings beyond a certain point because a failure would be bad for for MB. So the smaller customer teams very rarely beat their rich sugar daddies these days.

    I’ll cheer as loudly as anyone when Williams get another win, much as I did when Bradbury slid across the line. Life is often as much about luck as anything else, but you have work bloody hard to put yourself into a position where luck can find you.

    A reprise:

    And after saying all that, I still think Williams underperform given the level of resources they have.

    ***An aside: I’m always stunned by the (repeated) rate of charge / discharge that F1/WEC batteries can sustain. Fkn mind blowing***

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