The rise and fall of Williams

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Juan Pablo Montoya scored Williams' last win at Interlagos in 2004
Juan Pablo Montoya scored Williams' last win at Interlagos in 2004

If you tuned into an F1 race for the first time this year you wouldn’t suspect the blue-and-white cars mired in the midfield once were the sport’s most feared competitors.

Williams have known slumps in their time but it’s now six years since they won a race and you have to wonder if they can climb out of this trough.

Williams: wins, pole positions and fastest laps

The rise and fall of Williams
The rise and fall of Williams (click to enlarge)

Williams have had periodic slumps in form throughout their 35-year history, usually when in transition between engine suppliers:

1982-1984: Few race successes in 1982 but consistent points-scoring made Keke Rosberg world champion for the team. The switch from Cosworth V8s to Honda turbo power took a while to come good.

1988-1990: A split from Honda is followed by a joyless year with Judd engines. The team forge a new partnership with Renault and are soon winning again.

1998-2000: A double-whammy as both Renault and star designer Adrian Newey leave the team. Although a new engine supplier was found in the shape of BMW from 2000, arguably the team has been lacking on the chassis side of its operation ever since.

2006-present: BMW’s offer to take over Williams is spurned and they move in at Sauber instead. Williams spend a year with Cosworth, three with Toyota (requiring them to run Kazuki Nakajima for two seasons), then return to Cosworth power.

The future for the team

Can Williams get back on the top step of the podium? They don’t look like getting there are time soon as it seems the FW32 is only the seventh-quickest car out there.

The big four were always going to be out of reach but Renault are ahead of them as well and so are Force India – something which would have been unthinkable even 12 months ago. Williams must be thankful BMW and Toyota are no longer around or they’d be struggling to score even with points down to tenth place.

It’s not all doom and gloom for their supporters, however. Losing Toyota engines has at least allowed them to bolster their driver line-up. The loss of Nico Rosberg is unfortunate – he’s gone from strength to strentgh with Mercedes – but the combination of super-experienced Rubens Barrichello with promising newcomer Nico H???lkenberg is a good one, on paper at least.

They are throwing a lot of effort behind KERS development, even though the technology is not being used in F1 this year (a move the team opposed).

Its new technology centre in Qatar, where several engineers from the University of Cambridge have been recruited, is working on applications for the technology outside of motor racing. But their flywheel KERS could yet find favour in F1 as concerns remain over the safety of battery-based KERS, both in terms of what happens when a KERS car crashes and disposal of the chemicals in the batteries.

Today Williams announced it has purchased a majority stake in the company behind the technology, Williams Hybrid Power. It could a very shrewd move for the future.

Do you think Williams can ever recapture their all-conquering form of the eighties and nineties? Will their KERS development play a role in their recovery? Have your say in the comments.

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191 comments on “The rise and fall of Williams”

  1. No. unfortunately.

    1. Sideshow bob
      29th April 2010, 0:12

      For some reason Williams kind of disgust me. They’ve been useless since Villeneuve (okay, they were all right in ’03) and they don’t seem to be doing anything about it. I admit I’m hardly an expert on their situation, but it’s like they don’t have the drive to fight for the top. You’d think they’d kill themselves to at least sign a top driver for once. They seem content with mediocre lineups like Rosbert/Nakajima and Hulkenberg/Barrichello.

      I think they’re doomed to be a middling team at best.

      1. If your Stoke City, how do you get Wayne Rooney to sign for you? You have 2 problems. first your Stoke City, and secondly you can’t afford the salary.

        I don’t know but I assume there is also a similar problem with the technical staff your trying to hire.

      2. THe decline of Williams has perhaps less to do with how Frank Williams and the management run the team but probably could be explained on the sponsorship front. During the financial crisis of just last season (remember this?) Frank William acknowledged the difficulties and concerns of running the team as an independent race operator – with no car manufacturing line on the side (Ferrari and McLaren) or sponsorship by a major road car company.

        The fact that it is still there on the grid today with great drivers to boot is a testament to how Williams have chartered these ostentatious days of F1 racing.

        1. I think the other way round – it’s the management of the team. The lack of sponsors is rather a consequence.

          There needs to be a strong character pulling it ahead. Sir Frank Williams used to be one, but I guess many things got the better off him.

    2. I remember watching Williams in 2005 and they started the year really well, getting 2nd and 3rd at Monaco and then Heidfeld’s pole at the Nurburgring (where Webber qualified 3rd) seemed to turn things around. Suddenly Williams were a midfield team qualifying around 14th and 15th, but then by the end of the year they were recording good finished again. Anyone know why this was?

  2. I would love to them back in the top but i just cant see it happening in the near future. Maybe this KERS system could be a thing to give them en edge, but how long will they be alone with this?

  3. Ned Flanders
    28th April 2010, 12:13

    I know F1 is going through a manufacturer withdrawal at the moment, but I still think what Williams ought to do do is allign themselves with a big manufacturer again.

    I thought signing up Toyota in 2007 would turn out to be a great decision. I thought Toyota would eventually grow tired of wasting billions of dollars on their own team, and simply pull the plug on and concentrate on Williams. Of course, that’s exactly what has happened, but Williams had already ditched them by then.

    Would they have continued to supply Williams if they had of honoured their contract? Who knows. Presumably Kazuki Nakajima or Kamui Kobayashi would’ve been part of the deal, which wouldn’t have been ideal. But Williams can’t get much worse than they are now. They epitomise mediocrity

    1. I thought Toyota would eventually grow tired of wasting billions of dollars on their own team, and simply pull the plug on and concentrate on Williams. Of course, that’s exactly what has happened, but Williams had already ditched them by then.

      Or maybe Toyota weren’t interested. Or maybe they were and Williams didn’t want to sell up – they didn’t sell to BMW, so why should they sell to Toyota?

      Accepting a lesser quality driver is a false economy in this situation. Nakajima scored nothing last year, and just two points would have been enough to put them above BMW in the constructors’ championship.

      1. Ned Flanders
        28th April 2010, 12:46

        I don’t neccessarily mean they should sell the team off. I may well be wrong on this, but BMW and Renault didn’t buy into the team when they were engine suppliers, did they?

        Although, come to think of it, why is Frank so desperate to keep ownership of the team? He’s an old man, he can’t stay in charge forever. Obviously, he’ll be mindful of the BMW Sauber mess- ie a manufacturer buying a team and then pulling out and leaving them in the lurch- but surely the team needs a breath of fresh air. They’re going nowhere under PH and FW

        1. From what I’ve heard, Sir Frank and Patrick Head weren’t the easiest of partners to work with during the BMW collaboration.

          Had it worked, and BMW not gone their own way, Williams would probably have stayed at the top a lot longer.

          1. they are difficult people to work with, period.
            They were pretty bad managing drivers, they pushed away hill and mansell during their championship years. They didn’t give reuteman the support he needed, and lost to piquet in 1981.
            They lost many key personal to mclaren, and very few were gained the other way around.
            They are the kind of team, that spends several millions to gain a couple of teths, and demorilize their drivers, to lose half a sec.
            I think their best times are in the past. Very good record though.

          2. Frank wants to keep the team independent, a privateer, as all F1 teams should be.

            And I believe pushing away Hill was closely related to Senna’s death.

          3. I seriously doubt that. Had BMW not gone their own way they probably would have done to Williams exactly what they did to Sauber, and look at the mess they’ve left behind there.

        2. BMW bought Sauber, and eventually ran away from F1.

          Honda bought BAR and eventually they too ran away from F1.

          Toyota began from scratch, but they too finally called it a day.

          Renault bought Benetton, and now they have just 25% left in the team.

          Yes, it is clear that Frank Williams should leave his legacy to the fickle whims and boardroom politics of a major manufacturer, because that is a very safe option isn’t it?

          1. I agree with Kowalsky’s comment.

            Williams havent managed their drivers too well, Mclaren will probably be the only other team thats worse off.

            Not going back too far, if you look at the Montoya years, they had the car and driver capable of winning the title, but they didn’t. It could be put down to bad luck and some very brash driving from Montoya (which is why he’s my all time fav!), but as a team, its their duty to control the driver and guide him to victories.

            Do you think would have won at least 1 WDC between 01 and 04 if they had Ross Brawn as team principle? I would like to think so.

        3. Ron Dennis never wanted to sell out to Mercedes and never gave up his majority voting rights in the group.

          This is about being in control of your own company and its racing legacy.
          As Douglas points out, most Manufacturers were interested for a while and then left. He forgot to mention Ford buying Steward GP and later selling to Red Bull

          1. Well pointed out Bas, the Jaguar days did indeed slip my mind.

      2. I agree, Keith. Williams has shown a greater preference of not selling out its soul, keep the spirit of an independent team in racing alive time and again. This act takes bravery and courage and should not be held against them.

        1. not only should it not be held against them, its well and truly been proven to be the correct decision.

          1. WidowFactory
            29th April 2010, 10:31

            Although not selling out to a manufacturer has been to Williams’ credit, not giving Adrian Newey a share of the company shares was the worst thing they have ever done. If they hadn’t been so stingey and stubborn, they would have the car Red Bull have now.

          2. Ferrari has never had an Adrian Newey designed and they’ve won 6 championships against Newey’s Mclarens and Red Bulls. McLaren has won a championship after losing Newey and Newey’s Red Bulls have yet to win a championship. I see no reason why one should talk about Williams losing Adrian Newey like it was the day the world stopped turning.

  4. It would be good to see a team who has such a proud history at Williams, to reach the top step again. I think it wont be for a while yet. I hope they do it though, would be good to see hulkenburg give the title a good shot in a couple of years (couple of big ifs and maybes there) :)

    1. Consider they only had one good driver last year (the toyota engine/driver deal was just bad all around) this years car couldn’t be developed properly IMO and on top of that start with a new engine for this year.

      New engine, one experienced driver/car developer and new regulation opportunities I think that 2011 they could move up the field but don’t expect to see that happen this year.

      Like Honda just because they got Brawn he couldn’t make his midas touch make the horribly backwater car of 08 be anything else but a backwater BUT he developed and built for the next years car all the time and well we know how that delivered.

      Not that I believe Williams can do a Brawn turn around but I think they can deliver a lot stronger package next year as long as key personal in development don’t move out or in. Fluctuations and changes is not a good deal for a team and ususally take a year or two to get stability and make result. RedBull, Brawn, Force India are the latest examples of teams that turned thing around and moved up the exception would be Torro Rosso but they are designed to have movement and be a development team so yeah don’t expect them to be like these other three unless a complete change of priorities happens within the team.

  5. I miss the old Williams team, but i belive they are the new Tyrrell. Was same with old Lotus team too, from cutting edge champions to also-rans….

    1. Same with Brabham. Some teams just naturally reach the end of their lifespan.

      1. I don’t think they are quite also rans yet!

  6. Ned Flanders
    28th April 2010, 12:23

    Oh, and here are some more stats which should illustrate quite how crap Williams have been of late:

    Their last pole position was at the Nurburgring in 2005. Since then, 11 other teams have taken pole: McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, Honda, BAR (all technichally the same team I know), Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Force India, Toyota, BMW Sauber, Renault.

    Since Nurburgring 2005, they have taken 3 podiums. By my reckoning that puts them behind all of the above team minus Toro Rosso, Force India and BAR (who left F1 at the end of 2005). Also, all 3 of their podiums have been pretty lucky ones, on street/ temporary circuits

    Williams last won a race at Brazil 2004. Since then, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Brawn, Honda, Toro Rosso, BMW Sauber and Renault have all won one or more races

    1. Ned Flanders
      28th April 2010, 12:50

      Oops, Schumi the Greatest has just corrected me that Mercedes have never been on pole yet. (Although in their 4 races they have taken one more front row start than Williams have in the last 80+ races)

      1. Mercedes haven’t, but Brawn did. Same team, of course!

  7. Well, it’s not like soccer is it. If you’re not racing at the front in F1, then there are no other competitions that you can enter into that you can do a spot of ‘giant killing’ in and it’s not as if you’re going one-to-one with another team either, as they do in soccer. There’s nowhere to hide in F1.

    How long a team like William’s can go on being unsuccessful for is probably not as long as it usec to be, at least in terms of sponsorship.

  8. Prisoner Monkeys
    28th April 2010, 12:33

    I think they can do it. I think Sir Frank will hold onto the team long enough to reclaim soome of their former glory. But right now, their biggest problem is stability. From 2005 to 2009, they finished 5th, 8th, 4th, 8th and 7th. They’ve been all over the place, and an inconsistent line-up hasn’t helped. I think Rubens Barrichello is good for the team – I’ve long thought a Barrichello-Williams combination would be a good idea – but Nico Hulkenberg as so far disappointed. One has to wonder how he would fare if the new teams were on par with the regulars.

    1. I am with you in this line of thinking. I have the feeling there is some drive or vision missing to really target a way to succes and follow up on it.

      I would love for Baricello to give it his last 2-3 years of racing and maybe a year or so of testing to help the Hulk develop and bring the team to new succes.

      Their KERS could be a good way to keep a acces to a great pool of engineers (maybe team up with Cosworth to build an Engine/Kers unit together for 2013) as well as diversify the income, somewhat similar as McLaren did with their applied technology and electronics divisions.

  9. I agree! They need big manufacturer backing again as their infrastructure has fallen behind the modern F1 standard. Much has been made of warehouses full of CFD computers and state of the art wind tunnels a la Hinwil yet Williams don’t appear to be following suit, instead sticking with their old one. Probably a money issue more than anything.

    Also, they just aren’t capable of attracting the big guns of the design world because they can’t pay the wages and they don’t have the results. If they could at least pay the going rate for the big designers they might have a chance of getting them. I can’t believe they let James Key leave Force India for Sauber, he could have been good for Williams. They need new blood in the design office, they have adopted a culture of holding station when they need to be radical.

  10. Williams4ever
    28th April 2010, 12:41

    Keith, While the article on surface was about “Will Williams be able to scale the heights of their glory days”, your reporting got bit off track and based on Unverified facts. I am referring to Kazuki Nakajima part of the post.
    a) Have you/anybody in F1 fraternity indeed verified what was or was not in the Toyota contract.
    b) What kind of Bolstering of driver lineup are you referring to? Nico Hulkenberg has continued where Kaz had left (finishing dead last or getting tangled up in DNF).
    c) Nakajima had good debut for Williams and good first season where he did keep the Much Hyped Nico Rosberg honest. If not for Williams Pitwall/Garage Blunders, the Japanese driver would have scored 3 times last year(read Williams F1 post race debriefs from 2009)
    d) For all the hype surrounding Rosberg – barring his brilliant debut race, Rosberg was half the time crashing in 2006.

    As a Williams fan, I consider two areas where the team is struggling
    a) lack of resources – this has resulted in team not being able to attract good talent in term of drivers and designers. In 2004 when Williams bungled on car design aero dynamically, a race winning driver like JPM used to put the Williams car in position where it normally wouldn’t have finished. Williams’s last win at Brazil’04 is good example what race winner can do to an ordinary car. Unfortunately Williams has not been rich on resources as it was before.
    Same goes for the Designers. And again we need to bear in mind in hey days of Williams under Newey, reliability was not exactly virtue of F1.

    Taking Redbull equivalent, money can buy Williams Adrian Newey and his services, but will that mean a car that is reliable while being fast that is question for debate.

    b) Lack of Fresh Blood on Pitwall – Its time Sir Frank and Patrick Head take a hard look at the race team that goes to races and makes those crucial decisions which can get some results which wouldn’t have been possible with normal thinking. Renault this year is prime example. Renault is not necessary the fasted car out there, but they have been agile on their strategy and made points which normal strategy wouldn’t have fetched them. Compare that with Pitwall bungles I have referenced in case of Nakajima.

    Again this is tied with resources which Williams is running thin on and which maybe one reason why they have not been able to get fresh blood on their pitwall.

    Hope for Williams – Cost cap which will force the McLarens, Mercedes and Ferraris to reduce their resources which can result in unreliability of car, more pitwall gaffes, more garage botchups.
    So essentially, for Williams to look good on current resource level and operating model, other teams have to go bad and even then an agile team like Renault will trump them, unless of course Carlos Ghosn executes his threat of closing Renault F1 program, if program is not viable not producing results, something that he has been doing ever since he has taken charge of Renault group

    1. Nice summary, I agree.

      Nakajima might have received a little push by Toyota to get into the race seat, but it was absolutely sensible to keep him after his good 2008 season (In which Rosberg was doing most of the crashing)

      In my opinion, the biggest problems are on the team side, especially concerning strategy. For example, that great decision to put Hulkenberg on slicks last race or in Singapore last year, when a radio message by the team suggested that Rosberg should take his penalty the same lap that the safety-car pulled in (With a little bit of thinking every TV viewer could see that this was a crap idea).

      1. >>In my opinion, the biggest problems are on the team side, especially concerning strategy.

        I agree with this completely. I remember in the mid-90’s, Williams was outfoxed by an upstart team in several races. They seem to do well when the car is vastly superior and any mistakes are covered by the car.

  11. Schumi_the_greatest
    28th April 2010, 12:41

    ned when did mercedes take a pole?

  12. If they find a crack chief designer to rival Newey, and a solid engine package, they can go back to winning.. they know how to win, and what it takes to win, they just don’t have the ingredients… and I doubt Frank will go a long way financially to make it happen.

    i always thought Williams would do well with a Ferrari Engine, but then again, will Ferrari ever give its engines to a team that might beat it?

    1. If they find a crack chief designer to rival Newey

      I reckon it would be easier to hire Newey than it would be to find someone as good as him :-)

      Getting him away from Red Bull would be expensive but its not impossible, finding someone as good as him just may be…

  13. Robert McKay
    28th April 2010, 12:45

    Will Williams get back to the top? It’s hard to see that right now, with Red Bull, Mclaren, Mercedes and Ferrari in front.

    But I’d be more surprised and dissapointed if, over the next few seasons, Williams couldn’t overpower Renault and Force India.

    Renault look good at the moment due to inspired Kubica and reasonably good development, but somehow over the next few seasons I suspect that the strange shareholding situation they have will not work well. Force India have made massive strides but I don’t know if they can take the next stride of being top 4.

    Having said all this, remember the top teams are mostly all due to go through quite large downsizing soon, with the resource restriction agreements etc., which Williams will probably not have to (or at least feel much less). Somewhere along the line small efficient teams will get their chance again, I think.

    Main thing for me with Williams is that they – almost alone – survived the manufacturer dominance of the 2000’s. It might take some time, but if we’re looking at a mostly-independents formula for the next 6 or 7 years at least, I’d expect Williams to be more competitive within that than the 2000’s.

    But they are appearing quite disappointing so far this year. And they also need a decent post-Frank’n’Patrick plan, in much the same way Mclaren have went post-Ron and Ferrari post-Brawn/Todt.

    In summary: future brighter than 3-4 years ago, but outlook still very challenging.

  14. Williams have lost their way, despite the core team and professionalism spoken about by many over a number of years. Those such as Patrick Head are noted as being excellent engineers.

    Their best chance at a comeback of sorts was last year with their DDD being a good and early one, but they didn’t really go anywhere with that.

    Fresh blood perhaps?

  15. That graph looks worryingly symmetrical, with the peak in ’92 and similar smaller peaks either side. Trouble is ’92 is in the middle, with a pretty much equal number of years either side. Makes you wonder if the next few years will be the end for the Williams team. I sure hope not though.

  16. Push the Button
    28th April 2010, 12:58

    It’s interesting to see that Williams most successful periods were when the Brits (Mansell or Hill) were driving or, in the case of ’93, helped develop.


    1. You can add David Coulthard to that list too… he did millions of testing miles after Damon got the race seat in 1993.

  17. Williams always seemed to go better with rough drivers that could wring the cars neck, rather than smooth drivers. Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Nigel Mansel etc…. Ok Damen Hill was quite smooth, but far less so than Senna who struggled. I have no idea why, but I can’t see Williams coming back until they get a real talented driver who isn’t smooth…. (did somebody say Raikkonen?)

    1. Kimi sure didn’t! Watch me eat my words! I can’t remember who offered him a drive, but they were in a far better position than williams are. He obviously didn’t take it. He is a ragged driver though, you’ve gotta be to rally race! I think Barrichello and Hulkenburg are great choices. Barrichello may not be what he was in ferrari days, but he’s still showing he is on fast mo fo, and can set the car up, probably better than anyone else on the grid.

      1. Toyota were another team apparently interested in Kimi

  18. I remember reading an article in autosport a couple of years ago I think which argued that Williams was in permanent decline and would go the way of Team Lotus and Tyrrel and would never win another race. At the time I though the idea the team I’d seen dominate F1 when I was little would never win another race, but with every passing season i get the sense that that article may have been right.

    This year the team is at the back of the established teams, and with Frank Williams and Patrick Head not getting any younger I do fear for the team in the long term.

  19. Williams have been disappointing of late but things should get better; Rubens still has the fire, experience and is supposedly very good setting up a car (also if he could get that dog of a Honda on the podium in the wet maybe something good could happen if some madness took place again) while the Hulk -not great so far- has potential.
    Williams know how to win and they desperately want to again. Long term Cosworth should be better than Toyota, although as they have just returned there could be some reliability issues.
    What they need is to really learn how to make the most of strategies. That is their big flaw on the track.
    They seem to understand the aero side and we can’t really judge how much Rosberg got out of the car last year. I know this is apparently a “clean sheet” but they seem to have a grasp on things. Long term things look better and Williams did sell a small part of shares or whatever so that is some new blood although perhaps they need some on the front line but they’ve got a long way to go for regular wins. Williams can do it though.

    1. the Sri Lankan
      29th April 2010, 8:32

      steph, are you serious? i could bet my left one a Toyota Engine is far more reliable if not faster that a Cozzy

      1. Yeah I’m serious. Patrick Head said and James Allen reported the Cosworth block was more powerful, I;ve already said the issue will be reliability because Cossie have only just came back but long term for the next few seasons it’s a step up from Toyota in my opinion.

      2. Nutritional
        29th April 2010, 8:45

        Considering the rules on how many engines teams are allowed in a season. I’d be willing to bet that a Cosworth is just a reliable and, because of the limits put on engine performance, just as powerful as a Toyota engine. Either way, neither engine comes with huge sums of money for Williams to develope their cars with anyways.

  20. What really finished Williams was BMW pulling out so much money.

    Since then they’ve been trapped by a certain amount of debt, but they do seem to be rebuilding themselves, there arangment with Porche seems to be going well, an Hulkenburg needs time.

    What they need is a Mercedes style partner, a manufacutor that understands the sport, will supply them with engines, but won’t approach the deal all hostile. Williams is making noises about trying to attract VW for the new engine regulations, I’d love to see them make it back, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

    1. Just thought I’d add a rather interesting quote from Joe Saward in here

      “It is worth noting that there has been a quiet switcharound of roles at Williams in recent months with Adam Parr becoming the chairman of the company. Alex Burns is now the chief executive, while Sir Frank Williams remains team principal.”

      in fact here’s the article
      seems the company is finally diversafying from the rather dead buisness model of pure racing, either you’ve got a backer with a buisness or you’ve got to have a way of making money.

  21. I wish a nice big company such as Volkswagen or similar would buy a participation in Williams. It is very prestigious for any manufacturer to be associated with a class act such as Williams.
    It would be great if they could hook up with a large company such as Ford to license their flywheel tech and tune their road cars.
    Best wishes for Williams !

    1. Porsche, wo they are already tied in to with their Flywheel KERS Technology is a component company of what is commonly refered to as VAG (exact ownership layout of all bits is not necessary at thie point), and as such means they have tenuous links already with Porsche, Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Seat, Bugatti and Lamborghini.

      The VW golf is essentially the Audi A3, or Seat Ibiza. The Audi R8 is a Lamborghini Gallardo. The Skoda Octavia is an Audi A4. The Bugatti Veyron is a Volkswagen engineering marvel.

      So why would they need Ford? If the new engine rules can convince VW to get involved in F1, and with Williams already linked to Porsche with their KERS, I think switching to a collaboration with Ford would be a slightly backwards step overall.

      1. I did not realise their ties to Porsche – VW. This is excellent !
        Surely that important group can greatly benefit from the Williams expertise and research. Here there is a field of opportunity for Williams. The prestige of an asociation with Williams could be an important asset for the VW group.

        1. Check out the stories Keith has posted on here for more info as there has been a few things in the media these past few weeks. The most recent of these was Nico driving the Nordschleife in a Williams-Porsche Hybrid…

  22. Sadly I can’t see Williams challenging for wins anytime soon let alone dominating like they used to. It is probably more likely that they will go the way of the old Lotus team than winning championships again.

    Their best hope is probably if the resource restriction agreement does what it is supposed to do then they could be in a better position than some of the other teams.

    Other than that they would probably need to attract a billionaire backer or a manufacturer and either of those options may well prefer to own a team completely and rename it.

  23. I was hoping they would use KERS this year, but the new rules of banning refueling unfortiunetly made it impossible. If KERS will come back next year I honestly think Williams will be one of the teams to beat, if they keep Barrichello and perhaps have a new partnership with Porsche.

    1. Sorry, I ment unfortunately

  24. What do you people think of the influence of Williams’ technical director Sam Michael?
    I was never impressed by him.

    1. Stanzo, I agree completely. Although probably not fair to blame all their problems on him, I’ve just never felt he’s up to the job.

    2. the Sri Lankan
      29th April 2010, 8:26

      im with you there. somehow he just doesnt seem to be the same caliber as newey and brawn etc..

  25. I only will name 1 person in this all to support me saying “Yes” to the question if Williams ever will find the podium again:
    Toto Wolff.

    Im sorry to say so, but there HAS to be a reason why he entered the Williams team by buying some shares. Frank and Patrick (Williams and Head re.) never sold any of their shares back in the days of Honda, Renault and BMW (who where reportedly back then when they where suppliers, all interested in some shares). So why would they now sell some shares to some lunatic fan of motorsports? He has connections within the German automobile branche, and he worked intensively on DTM projects.

    My hunch, more my silent wish if Im honest, is that Toto has signed with the Grove based team to eventually bring Volkswagen into the Formula 1.
    There where rumours about this around race 1, sorry I cant find a direct link to any article anymore, but this Toto Wolff deal smells a bit fishy.. there has to be more to it. Call me a dreamer, but see the facts.

  26. I think if they can really make some good deals with the KERS Flywheel technology, then they might just have the funds to turn the team around and get back to the top.

    Their tie-in with Porsche off-track could be their way in to a deal with VW on track – surely using the Porsche brand…

  27. FW did sell a stake to Toto Wolff last year so I guess he knows the time when to wind-down.

  28. I have always liked Frank Williams and Patrick Head but I do think that they have gone too long without a win. Williams need more stability with enginge suppliers and a better commitment than they have had so far.
    Does anyone know the outcome of the FIA meeting yesterday in Paris? talk here in Italy is that VW may be interested in entering F1 and as an engine supplier before entering as full race team. This could help both Williams and VW.
    Up for debate was also a return to 1.5/1.6 ltr turbo. Any news would be good.

    1. I don’t have any info Rampante but I’ve heard those rumours a while back about VW too. I think Autosport ran a piece on it a few months back

  29. If you could time-transport AJ, Keke and Nige at their best, or even near their best, and put them in the current car, Williams would be back at the front of the grid where they belong.They just need a couple of genuine, mickey duck, balls out racing drivers rather than the miserable excuses they have been saddled with the past 5-10 years.

  30. when KERS is re introduced, the FIA could easily choose the Williams mechanical system. then all the teams would have to but it off williams. giving them some precious development money.

    1. I hope this is the case !

  31. I’d love to see Williams back at their early 90’s peak. That’s when I started watching F1 and I still have a soft spot for the ’92 and ’93 cars.

    Teams can go from the back of the grid to the front very quickly though (with the right rule changes of course). Just look at the Honda team. Two years ago they were at the back, now they are seen as one of the big four.

  32. Sush Meerkat
    28th April 2010, 14:27

    Williams KERS tech has application not only in F1 and road cars like err err Porsche, but industrial too such as big machinery, trains things like that.

  33. Williams had their biggest chance to bounce back to the top last year, but they didn’t take it, despite being one of the first teams to have a double diffuser. It didn’t help they had Toyota engines and Nakajima driving for them, of course.

    I can see them coming back, but they will have to wait until costs come down further (so they’re not outstripped by the bigger teams), and the engine rules change, especially if KERS comes in. William’s latest move to acquire the majority stake in its KERS company indicates to me that this is exactly what Williams are aiming for, playing the long game.

    1. And of course, with Volkswagen pioneering work in small turbos (the format F1 looks to be moving to for 2013), the timing could be even better, if they partner with VW.

      1. (Argh, triple post)

        But it would have to be a McLaren-Mercedes style relationship, worked over many years for stability. If VW want to come in and become a full team within a five years, then Williams will either disappear as a name or see all the progress disappear.

  34. Robert McKay
    28th April 2010, 14:49

    I read somewhere that Williams flywheel KERS is no use now in F1 because of the need for much larger fuel tanks in a no-refuelling formula, leaving them not enough room to fit the flywheel in – whereas batteries could be fitted in in much less obvious and smaller places.

    Dunno if that is the case – just saying I read it…

    May end up being that the KERS aspect is just a way of diversifying the business to other formulae/categories, giving them some money, and has no F1 application per se.

    1. It was Frank Williams himself who said that. If I remember correctly, he said something alon the lines of the combination of a race distance size fuel tank and the flywheel based KERS technology would make the car “as long as a London bus”.

      1. Frank Williams quote from earlier this month

        “We can’t use our own KERS because that’s a flywheel, which takes up more room, and the only place to put it is behind the driver,” he explained.
        “If the fuel tank is three times the size it was two years ago, and you want to put KERS in it, you’ll have your car longer than a London bus… So we’ll use it elsewhere.”

  35. It was sad that Williams-BMW didn’t win the 2003 World Championship.

    Juan Pablo Montoya was only a point adrift from Michael Schumacher with 3 Grands Prix before the end of the season, while the team actually lead the Constructors’ standings with as little as 2 races still to go.

    Ironically, what helped them develop Williams’ speed in the early days of their relationship with BMW, arguably cost them either of the Formula One titles: Michelin’s tyres of which the front versions were deemed too wide by the FIA at 75% of the season.

  36. Im suprised no mention was made of Patrick Head handing over the reigns to the young and inexperienced Sam Michael. He must be one smooth talker. Williams have not been the same since.

    1. I agree with this, why no mention of Sam Michael, even though he an Aussie i dont think hes top engineering material and i think hes a victim of the conservative attitude of Williams and Head.

      Webber alluded to this i think when he left saying and if you look at the Rise of Sam Michael and the fall of the team its a close link.

      average drivers and average engineering. a shame williams used to be innovators, they need an excellent and creative new engineering leadership, but i think with Williams the management hasnt moved on with the sport and will find it hard to keep up with the likkes of Red Bull for eg who are pushing the boundaries, Williams seems as average as ever, year after year.

      the BMW likn was a shame, good engine but BMW management really stupid! and not enough synergy between them.

      id love to see them rise up, they need a good engineer and designer to step up before that happens i feel and Head and Williams should kmove over and get a great new boss running the show…

  37. I think Williams can do it. With Rubens now in the team and with the ever-improving Cosworth engine, I think that they will be on the up. There have been flashes of brilliance over the last few years. (Rosberg has made it onto the podium and even Nakajima was going well at the British GP last year).

    But there needs to be more pace through sheer determination, upgrades and development which Williams can do.

    I hope that Barrichello drives the guts out of the FW32, as I would love to see the Williams back at the front. They are quite capable.

    Big budget manufacturers do not guarantee success on the track or in development, as Toyota and BMW have clearly shown. With an independent team, there is more freedom and more input rather than the mighty business decisions from on high that put paid to Toyota and BMW’s efforts (proving that Williams was right to turn down BMW’s offer to buy the team).

    I am still not sure about Nico Hulkenberg. Young drivers who look good on paper need to put the results into practice. If they can’t then why persist? Good experienced drivers are the way to go, especially now because Williams needs experience more than ever.

  38. VW euros would help, a KERS partnership with VW/Audi, etc would be great for both companies. However, its the management. Why invest in a moribund team when you can for a partner that is run well, has invested in its facilities, and has a deep well of talent. If I’m VW, I’m trying to exploit the Woking-Stuttgart rift, or find the next RedBull (Force India?), and I avoid the musty aroma of decaying laurels.

  39. Isn’t fair to say that the fall of Williams from the late 1990s until now follows a rather coincidental correlation with the ever increasing costs and rising budgets of their competitors?

    When Ferrari were able to spend their way to the top of the pack in the early part of the century, teams had one option or another – buy their way on to their tales. Mclaren were able to follow suit, with Mercedes money, and Toyota and BMW weren’t short of funds. Toyota and Honda too threw a load at the sport, and even a small team like Red Bull has a much healthier budget than that used by Frank’s boys.

    With the plan to reduce budgets back to those more akin to the more level playing field of 15 years ago, where technical prowess and ingenuity was king, and not the size of the wallet, it may be just a couple of years before Williams are contenders again. And while it may not be because they have leapt forward, it is likely that a change in the regulations and a less money to spend, could give Williams a nice edge.

    They know how to spend £50million a year and spend it wisely, while Ferrari probably have the entire Williams budget just to keep them in Cappuccinos for the season.

  40. If a new team like Force India can improve so much then why can’t Williams? I believe it is largely due to a very conservative approach of survival/profits rather than agressive diversification.

    Williams team seems to be going through an identity crisis and reorganization. Patrick Head and Sir Frank Williams are both too conservative at this point, they need to get some new blood into the team. I know they don’t want to sell the team but they are moving in the right direction by getting an additional partner last year.

    I am very confident Williams will be a force to reckon in a few years.

    1. Do you think there is any connection between the move up the grid by Force India beginning at the same time as they signed a deal to be provided with Mercedes engines instead of Ferrari ones, and at the same time entered into a close technical partnership with Mclaren for other peripherals, a deal which sees some of the Woking staff based in the Force India offices?

      I’m sure having access to some Mclaren guys and a Mercedes engine would see Williams move up the grid as well.

      1. I can see a Williams – VW car down the road, with a Porsche engine

      2. I am not sure that is the reason behind Force India’s pace. Sure Mercedez engine has helped (a lot) but other than that I think it is down to the team.

        Why would Mercedez or McLaren want to help Force India? They are not their “B” team! If a few technical ideas borrowed from McLaren can make such an improvement, all it states is that other smaller teams (including Williams) are not spending enough on development. Again a very conservative approach for whatever reason.

        1. They use the McLaren Gearbox and Hydraulics and the Mercedes engine. Plus they had Simon Roberts on secondment from McLaren for over a year. It’s a little bit more than technical ideas though – thats a massive technology transfer.

          1. So Mercedes had some income from that and better spreading of development, while McLaren received money for the gearbox and hydraulics and had Simon Roberts at a high level trainee-ship to get him ready for the future development of their own team.

            And Force India gets relieable and excellent equipment as well as a brainwave of better running procedures.
            If this would have been the concept by Dave Richards when entering, i have a hunch that he would have been pretty succesfull as well.

          2. In addition to what others have mentioned about a B team it is also a good place to give young drivers their debut, that after all is supposed to be the whole point behind Toro Rosso.

            Paul di Resta, who is now the Force India test driver and actually gets to drive on race weekends, is from the McLaren Mercedes driver stable, and while his drive may not be a condition of the deal, the Mercedes linkup defiantly helped get him the seat.

          3. My point was time is not a factor, resources and commitment defenitely are. Having said that I suppose I need to do some reading and it does look like a partnership with McLaren seems to have helped Force India move up.

  41. I am pleased that Williams have been inefective for quite some time. They went downhill after firing the reigning champion Damon Hill.

    1. I thought Hill left by himself? Also he got a hefty pay packet by Jordon. I remember Eddie Jordon saying later that he should never have taken Hill as he did not have any motivation whatsoever. Utter waste of money according to him.

      I am not saying there is anything wrong with Hill and infact I rooted for him the year he won the championship but you have to do justice to what you are paid. And for a small team like Jordon that was big disservice.

      1. I think Hill left partly because he learnt about his replacement before even ending the year and the team offered him only a pretty meagre salary.

        It was a shame he did not get up to anything good at Jordan.
        Williams does have a tradition of not treating their world champions very good: Hill left,
        Villeneuve left – OK that was to get BAR on the grid but still –
        Before that, Mansell left and only got a drive in Indy.

        Rosberg also left i think and while Prost was only interested in the one year, still he left.
        Who knows, how long Senna would have been with them.

        1. Mansell left because Williams signed Prost and good old Nige was still fuming over the Frenchman’s approach when they were teammates at Ferrari.

          And then Prost left after a single season because Williams were signing Senna and the Frenchman didn’t want to get beaten by a better driver than the one he faced as a teammate at Mclaren.

          1. Whenever I’ve read about the off season between 1992 and 1993, the authors have always made it out as Mansell was offered a low ball financial deal for 1993, he refused, Williams looked elsewhere, but then came back after they could not find any other drivers of Mansell’s caliber or better to drive the cars, but it was too late. I’ve assumed when they say too late that they mean he was already committed to race for Newman-Haas in the states.

      2. ConcedoNulli
        28th April 2010, 19:15

        Hill left and went to Arrows, where he very nearly won a GP (unlucky car failure). Then, the year after, he went to Jordan and won their first GP at Spa.

  42. There were two blows which Williams were dealt if I remember right.

    The first was Renault’s decison to pull out of F1 at the end of the 1997 season. Losing the most powerful engine on the grid, and a great technical partner was a major loss.

    The second was the ban on tabacco sponsorship. If I remember right Williams were the first f1 team to be completely smoke free, and that loss of revenue has, in my humble opinion, hurt them. Badly.

    1. Williams were the first f1 team to be completely smoke free

      No, but they were pretty much the first among the ‘big teams’ to go tobacco-free, doing so in 2000. But other teams like Stewart, for example, never had a tobacco sponsor.

      1. Williams even went so far as being sponsored by NiQuitin a product to help people quit smoking.

      2. Quite right, I meant to say the first “big” team to go smoke free.

        I have always found it strange that you are not allowed to advertsise cigarettes on a racing car, but it’s fine to advertise booze on a racing car. Surely drinking and driving is more dangerous than drinking and smoking?

        The strange world we live in…

        1. I’ve never seen someone start smoking for any other reason than the fact that the people they gather with, or want to gather with smoke. In that light I’ve never understood why simply putting the name of a tobacco product, without any accompanying slogans, has been banned, especially when so many tobacco liveries are so classic in racing. Now, on I saner note, I know that just because some tobacco liveries are classic, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to let the tobacco companies advertise, but I really miss liveries like Rothmans, Camels, Marlboro, West, JPS etc. I find a lot of the new liveries just don’t look as good.

    2. There was an interview in a magazine (F1 Mag?) a few months ago and FW/PH reckoned that they were really hurt in 1997/8 after failing to develop their car for a new formula and instead focussed on their championships of ’96 & ’97

  43. Although this is an absolute long shot, if the association between Williams and Porsche for providing hybrid drive works properly, it might make sense for Porsche (and by extension VW) to partner Williams in providing engines for 2013 when the new Engine regs come in, as Porsche have past experience on engines (specifically Turbos), and the new regulations will provide better feedback for manufacturers. A very long shot, but a nice idea nonetheless.

    1. How would Porsche’s experience of turbos twenty years ago aid them in coming back to F1 now? F1 and engine technology have moved on a long way since then.

      As for Williams, it pains me to say this (surrounded by 13 years’ worth of Williams model cars), I think they’re on the way to oblivion. Every year, they make positive noises about being on the way back to the top and every year, it’s a huge disappointment.

      Imagine how Rubens feels – last year, he was in a race-winning car. Now, he’s tooling around at the back, with his team mate getting beaten by one of the Lotuses last time out.

    2. Williams-Porsche. Now THAT’S got a ring to it :P

  44. Accidental Mick
    28th April 2010, 17:25

    Some mention has been made above about the driver line up that Williams have had over the years. One of their most succsesful combinations was Nigell Mansell who (in spite of his whingeing) had an almost insane determination to win and Damon Hill (their test driver at the time) who was considered an oustanding developement driver.

    I have no proof of this, just years of watching, but it seems to me that as soon as a driver gets talked about more than his (Frank’s) car, that driver leaves/gets fired. Any thoughts?

  45. I think we will see the re-resurgence of Williams in 2013 with a Williams-Porsche Works F1 Team with Flywheel 1.5 Twin Turbo lumps with Boost Buttons & Williams’ Fly-wheel KERS bolted on.

    1. Sounds like a very good package, I would like to see that

      1. Volkswagen may join in F1 in the future does that mean they are bringing Porsche & partnering with Williams.

  46. Its interesting to note that even in their most successful years, the team has had more poles than wins. Suggests to me either unreliability or absence of the best racing drivers.

    Didn’t Patrick Head have a policy of ditching drivers after they had won a WDC and not keeping one driver for too long in the team?

    I haven’t followed the Williams team as much in my short period as an F1fanatic. But it surely is one of the most cherished teams of the veteran F1 fans. Perhaps they could throw more light on Patrick Head’s policies :)

    1. Yes, my impression of Williams is that they are a team with the firm belief that the car is the “winner”, the driver is just the pilot. Often F1 shows they are right – the best drivers can’t perform if the car is to slow: Lewis struggled first half of 2009, etc. But they tend to forget, that the very best drivers bring decisive feedback to develop the car over the winter testing and over the season. And I suspect they treat their drivers and employees too old-fashioned or disrespectful to be able to keep the best and get the best output from those they have. Only drivers with a very tough personality have lasted longer than one or two seasons with Williams.
      F1 is a team-effort and I think Williams is not very good at being just that: “a team”. For this reason I think they are going to be history sooner or later, unless they can change the company into a true “team”, like Brawn apparently did with Honda. But to do that they probably need to reorganize a lot and say goodbye to a lot of people starting high. To be successful in such a process You most often have to start with a new capable owner.

  47. Keith can you do one of those graphs that plot the “rise & fall” of teams as Adrian Newey passes through them ?

    1. There’s a graph a bit like that from last year here:

      Michael Schumacher vs Adrian Newey, 1991-2008 (F1 in numbers)

      1. Yes I saw that last year :) but it would be interesting to see peaks and any troughs when he moved on at March / Leyton House/ Williams Mclaren and now Red Bull

  48. Surprise, surprise – Sam Michael now says Williams wants KERS back next year:

    1. I don’t think they wanted it not to be used this year really did they ?

    2. And they announce new sponsors; Transport for London ;-)

    3. I’ve had enough with Williams and their KERS, if it ever comes back there’s better be worth the wait and the hype!

      1. As they saw that the flywheel system working good for Porsche that’s why I think they made this decision, & they are the only one who have developed flywheel system whereas everybody have gone for battery powered.

  49. As much as I don’t like to say it, Williams will never recover just like Lotus never did. The blame is to be put on Patrick Head’s shoulders for not moving aside for Adrian Newey in the mid-nineties.

  50. The car is not up to scratch at the moment. Barrichello mentioned something like this in an interview, the main problem is the hight of the car in combination with their aerodynamics. Rubens is trying to push the developpers in a different direction. I still think they did well to hire the Hulk. He’s a tremendous talent, just his qualifying needs improvement but he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and in lap times he was faster than Barrichello the last 2 races (resulting in beating Rubens in Maleysia!). But most of it is now up to Rubens of course, the Hulk needs to learn as much as he can, Rubens needs to push the team as hard as they can. It’s early in the season and like Alonso said: The championship really starts in Europe.

    1. But i read somewhere, that they will bring their first major update only at monaco or maybe even later in the season, i think Sam Michael mentioned it when being asked about the F-duct.
      So let us just hope, this is a gigantic step.

  51. I miss the days when Montoya was winning races for Williams, I was a huge fan of them then.
    Bring back Montoya to F1!!

    1. ConcedoNulli
      28th April 2010, 19:17

      Here here! Montoya was one of the few drivers willing to face down Schumacher’s bullying tactics.

      1. Not to mention one of the best overtakers ever!

        1. @ Skett

          Back in the old days he with Kimi were the only guys who could challenge Schumi, it’s a shame that we don’t see him anymore in F1.

          1. Indeed it is, but I’m not sure how he’d do with this whole lightweight thing they’ve got to do now more than ever!

    2. Nutritional
      29th April 2010, 9:06

      I think Williams would have been far better off in 2001-2004 if Villenuve had stayed with the team after 1998. And that’s not to say anything against Montoya either. I think the combination of the two drivers in Williams’ BMW era would have quite possibly improved their fortunes. Considering they both had CART racing backgrounds, and simply by how they both raced in F1, I think they would have had similar needs in terms of car handling. That would have helped Williams in terms of developing the chassis. In addition, the rivalry between the two probably would have been intense, which would have pushed them harder on the track. Moreover, it never hurts to have a world champion on your team to keep manufacturer and sponsor interest in your team.

  52. I think all small/private teams need ace designers and some smart business deals – like Force India did with Mercedes.

    Williams at the moment have sorted neither.

  53. What about McLaren? Now that Mercedes has a team of its own will it go the Williams way?

    1. I don’ think so, they may become a manufacturer sometime in the future.

  54. MouseNightshirt
    28th April 2010, 21:50

    I think it’s important to realise that Williams are the only “business” team on the grid before this season (with the exception of Sauber, HRT and Lotus added this season). Their pure existence as a company, as an entity, is to race cars.

    Ferrari: Sells cars
    McLaren: Sells cars
    Renault: Sells cars
    Mercedes: Sells cars
    Sauber: Was formerly BMW… which sold cars
    Red Bull: Sells energy drinks
    Torro Rosso: Sells energy drinks
    Force India: Sells flights and beer
    Virgin: Sells flights, seats on trains, cola, telecommunications, dreams, fairies and trips to outer space.

    1. MouseNightshirt
      28th April 2010, 21:51

      That should have read “were the only “business” team.

      1. Just to be picky, Mclaren don’t yet sell cars, although that is only a short time away. And Lotus is part owned by Proton, who sell cars.

        Williams currently exist for F1 and F1 alone, and Hispania now join them on that list. And despite ownership, Force India are an F1 tea, who happen to be owned by the guy who owns an airline and some beer. Their operations are independent of each other.

        And Virgin is only part owned by Richard Branson, and again is independent of any other veture the Briton has.

        And with the expansion of their facility in Qatar, and this tie-in with Porsche, it is fair to say that Williams are begninning to branch out in the technical world in a way that will mean they are no longer just an F1 team and nothing else.

  55. Mike "the bike" Schumacher
    28th April 2010, 22:53

    Maybe they should stop making golf clubs and just focus on winning.

  56. Feels a bit like the Tyrrell story to me…


    1. I’d have to agree there. A more successful version, but showing similar signs of a successful era including a dominant period and then a slow decline into mediocrity.

      A shame as for me growing up they were the team to beat, not McLaren.

  57. I like what you do, specifically the graphs, but can I give you one suggestion. Why not try using alternating colors (not the defaults in excel)? The graphs tend to be small and we don’t always have the best view of the information.

    PS Williams will come back by next year with a podium finish. I believe they have quite periods but in the end things will shift around they will bounce back as a top team.

  58. Williams just need a good engine.

  59. Nutritional
    29th April 2010, 0:29

    KERS wouldn’t be enough to save Williams if KERS comes back in to the fold. What Williams really needs is factory backing again. Factory engines and the hoards of money that come with that are indispensable in Formula One. And, if Williams design team is lacking, they should do what’s always been done if F1 – fire them and find new ones. I do hope they find it back to the top. The FW16 and FW19 are two of my all time favorite F1 cars.

  60. A big rule change and the coming cost caps could help them and change the order of the teams. I don’t think they will get back near the top before that happens. So I guess that means 2013 is there next big chance.

  61. It’s a real shame what has happened Williams over the last years. Their performance is a shame but it’s also sad that with all their history and championships they haven’t been able to create a strong brand.

    Actually is sad that most F1 teams aren’t able to create strong brands. I think that is the main difference between Ferrari and the rest of the teams. The italian team whether they win or not they will always have lots of supporters because they have created a strong brand. Ferrari is even one of the strongest brands world wide and in all kinds of industries.

    Mclaren has also begun to create a a brand in the last decade but appart from them i dont think there is any other F1 team thats done it or that its trying to do it.

    Williams with all their history and title should have a strong brand by now. Not as popular as ferrari. But at least same or stronger than McLaren.

    Overall I think branding is a subject F1 teams have to revise. If they could create strong brands they could earn money from commercializing those brands and stop depending so much on sponsors. Plus teams would be worth a lot more. How much is worth the ferrari team and factory and how much is worth the brand itself?

    Teams could at least start with carefully choosing their color and car livery, and sticking with it forever.

    1. I think it would be nice having a discussion of WHAT SHOULD F1 TEAMS BRANDING BE LIKE

      1. i think it has a lot to do with the fact that ferrari and mclaren make super cars. super cars always attract huge attention. williams do not have a product such as a super car promote their brand. and then again, who really wants to buy a super car named ‘williams wx15’ lol

        1. I would if it was the quickest out there in it’s class :)

          Who would of thought some years back that people would be falling over them selves to buy a Suburu ? then along came the all conquering Suburu WRC and bang Bob’s yer Uncle Fanny’s yer Aunt everybody wanted one .. well almost ;)

  62. I don’t think Williams doing anything this season, they will be lucky if they even get a podium.They have good guys like Patrick Head & Sam Michael but still it’s hard to believe that they haven’t had any major success for the past six years.I think when they split with BMW that was the time they just fell on the ground.They have to do some good work on the car to get back on track in the near future or else we may have a situation where they may decide to quit F1.

  63. I spoke to a member of the factory staff last week, and asked him if its going to get any better this season. He just laughed and said ‘no’. He didn’t seem confident at all.

  64. Sam Michael must smile.

  65. Williams Porsche sounds like a good name :)

    1. If Volkswagen do come in F1 then they may take over this team if Williams are ready to see it to them.

  66. Williams needs a period of continuity with an engine supplier. Without revisiting the episode, we all know the reasons behind the decision to go with the Toyota engine. It helped Williams to stabilize its finances. I also thought that it was a possibility that Williams would have picked up the works-deal from Toyota. I have been a Williams supporter for a very long time now. Over the years it is clear to see that Williams has heaps of the Marmite factor. People either respect the team and what it stands for or else they despise it.

    Williams was being called ToyotaF1’s ‘B’ team by an element of the F1 fraternity along with predictions of doom and gloom for WilliamsF1. I see similar sentiments being expressed in this thread. They may be correct. This may be a bridge too far for Williams. Time will tell. However, I would rather place my trust in the man that created and shaped Williams. A man who lives for F1. The same man that has been written off time and time again in the past. Since 1969, I have shared some very dark days with the team. In those days winning championships was a dream. The biggest question was would we get to the next race. So long as there is a car with the Williams name on it, I will continue to follow and support it. I do not understand the football mentality that compels people to follow one driver or one team to the exclusion of everything else in F1 by wishing misfortune on other teams or drivers. It is my conviction that misfortune in others dilutes success. When Williams have been strong, I have always enjoyed beating other teams more when they are at their strongest. F1 is more important than anything else within F1.

    Getting back to the Rise and Fall of Williams and having set my views in some context. Williams’ decline began when Patrick, by his own admission, lost focus and began to switch his attention to other projects. As Sam is Patrick’s successor, he always comes in for criticism. I have no idea whether Sam is a good or bad TD. Sir Frank and Patrick have had plenty of opportunities to replace him since the departure of BMW. The fact that he is still there and has the confidence of Williams’ founders stands to endorse him in my opinion. So a few words in support of Sam. Leaving aside the financial restrictions placed on him, he is now working his way through his third engine change in around six years. For the last two years he has had the most inexperienced test-driver line-up on the grid. Most race winning cars these days have at least one race winning driver somewhere in their development programme. Rubens’ input is vital and is being taken seriously by everyone at Grove. It will be very interesting to see what kind of improvement is produced from Rubens’ input when we get to the first racing circuit after Monaco. As stated earlier, Sam and Williams need a period of settled development.

    Diversity for Williams is long overdue. WHP and the F2 chassis are income streams that can only help Williams’ financial position. I am also intrigued by Toto Wolff’s investment in Williams and the speed of the Porsche deal.

    Don’t write us off, we might just come back and bite you!

    1. Well said pgj ! I hope your correct

  67. the Sri Lankan
    29th April 2010, 8:35

    now for my 2 cents to the question…i highly doubt it…i read somewhere in autosport about the CEO’s at Ferrari Laughing their ***** off at Williams calling them a team that hasn’t won in a while. With that mentality you are talking about daydreaming. and i doubt Mercedes will supply them either. And going back to the engine issues, the Toyota supplied Williams with one hell of a good engine. they were pretty much bullet-proof at least while they were with them. What I don’t get is some one like frank Williams with all his wisdom couldn’t lure Toyota into a long-term deal with Williams. im a Toyota Fan and i fully still believe that after their withdrawal from F1 its still possible to bring them back into F1 as an engine supplier. its not like they lost their edge. they still have a factory in cologne that’s been building F1 engines for good ten years. but looking back at the three year spell Williams Had with Toyota i think its safe to say their decline isn’t due to some issues with Toyota engines. Consider seasons 2008 and 2009 where Toyota’s Built by a tire-man from France simply beat Williams with the same engines up and down the road…they couldn’t even make their Double diffusers work in 2009 and were beaten by force india. But lets not forget even backmarkers can pull some cracking drives – consider vettels drive to 1st in monza in 2008. and yet with all their experience the best williams could do in the past five years is some shoddy 2nd place finishes. i really think frank needs to embrace a manufacturer and hire proper designers and drivers. Till then Williams can forget winning.

    1. The Toyota was one hell of a good engine? Seriously? Yes it was reliable, but it was a poor block overall compared to the ones from Mercedes and Ferrari. It was a shocking unit that was by far the poorest on the grid.

      As for how they faired against Toyota as a works team, what was each team spending annually? Williams had a budget only a quarter of that of Toyota at best? $80 million a year vs $400 million a year. So were Toyota 4 times as good and 4 times as fast as Williams? Nope.

      And which manufacturer should they embrace? Toyota? BMW? Honda? Renault? Ford? I ask because its not like manufacturers have any commitment to the sport. Yes they have money, but they will run when they feel like it with no thought or respect to the sport. Toyota left nothing behind them, and it was privateer enthusiasm and hardwork that meant that Honda and BMW didn’t completely destroy two more teams.

      Given that Williams have seen dozens of teams come and go over the years, why does everyone think their survival is reliant on the most fickle element of the F1 world?

      1. the Sri Lankan
        30th April 2010, 11:14

        hold up a sec pal…i never said that the Toyota’s engine is a better option than anything out there. i never compared it to Merc, Ferrari or Renault. but since you want to get on that note, consider the fact that Toyota’s were far reliable than all three of them. this is a fact. Redbull could have and should have won the championship if it wasnt for Renault engine related issues. Ferrari? i remember them pulling DNF’s like no other in the first half of 2009 thanks to the engines again…dont ask me, just look up how many engine related issues resulted in DNF’s those particular engines and you’ll get a clear picture. i doubt that the renault was a quicker engine than the Toyota. where’s your backing to this? i can agree the MErc and Ferrari was on a league of their own. and you’ve compared budgets…if thats the case why did a poorly fuded Force india beat Williams with better financial backing last year?

      2. Because the most fickle element of the F1 world offers the most money maybe? McLaren won championships with Honda and Mercedes. They didn’t win a championship with a customer Ford engine in 1993. Williams won championships with Honda and Renault, but the didn’t win championships with Judd or “Mecachrome.” And though they didn’t win a championship with BMW, neither did McLaren-Mercedes win a championship in the same time span. I think Red Bull may be the only F1 team in the last 20 years which has competed for championships on mostly sponsor money as apposed to manufacturer money. I say that because I think in 1994 Benetton was the works Ford team and in 1995 they had parity in priority with Williams for Renault engines. And that’s the only team I can think of which has been successful and been Sponsor owned.
        Could you comment back with more information on the Toyota issue? Specifically on it being a poor engine overall. I don’t recall hearing anything negative about their engines, just their chassis. Just curious as you what information your assertion arose from.

        1. the Sri Lankan
          1st May 2010, 2:42

          nah i never opposed the Toyota Engines. generally they are a better block than renault in just raw pace, and merc and ferrari on the basis of reliability. its just that williams failed to capitalize on that and make it stick .

          1. Nutritional
            1st May 2010, 6:46

            Sri Lanken, if you response is directed to my response, my response was actually directed at Dougal.

  68. The only way Williams will get back on top is if they start the season with the intention to win.
    They have always been very conservative and poor in strategy. That could be done when they had an Adrian Newey car.
    Now they are at the back of the midfield, and still no sign of any attempt to an aggresive attacking strategy. They fully support Kers now, but when they had it, they didn’t use it. When it is reintroduced they still won’t use it unless everybody else does.
    They always build good cars. Williams was always better than the original toyota. They are easy the fastest Cosworth car on the grid.
    But while Nico Hulkenberg will grow into F1, Rubens will not. Rubens was a very very conservative choice. Why buy in a load of drivers expericence if you have one of the most experienced engineering teams in the world? They should have bought an aggressive drive-on-edge driver to replace Nico Rosberg.
    If they continue like this they are not F1 material anymore and will go the Tyrrell way. That would really dissappoint me.

    1. Please! That tired Tyrrell cliché is all over the Web. If you must then Lotus is probably a better comparator.

      Rubens is exactly what Williams needs at the moment. Our only chance to retain Nico is to provide him with a competitive car. That would be less likely without the input into the test team from a race-winning driver. At his age Rubens knows he is not there for the long-term and acknowledged the fact in earlier statements.

      Williams has stated that the FW33 will have KERS. Williams developed two KERS systems in 2009. It remains to be seen whether a WHP KERS is used for 2011.

      Williams agreed to not use KERS in 2010 in exchange for a FOTA agreement on a standard KERS for 2013. This announcement indicates that a KERS agreement is not close.

      1. Rubens did not improve any car he has ever driven in F1. He is not consistently dedicated to winning enough to make that happen.

        Brawn/Schumacher can use pitstops to gain places. Williams/Rubens will never do that. They will always lose places in pitstops.

        They compete tio finish the race. But they should be competing to win. There is nothing but WIN for Williams. If you don’t think like this, you can not imagine to ever win a pole position, race or championship again.

        1. Bold statements:

          (1) Rubens works for two teams that go onto win championships. You know for a fact that Rubens had no input into either car do you? You must have some very impressive sources.

          (2) Where do you get your information from that Williams is not racing to win? I see no link between failing to win and intentionally not trying to win as you claim Williams is doing.

          Without reference sources, it would be very easy for the casual reader that conclude that you are speaking from a biased and uniformed position.

          1. You can’t really call it either way with Barrichello. The year joined Ferrari, they won the championship, but they had Schumacher. And I personally think that had Schumacher not broken his leg he would have won the championship in 1999 when Barrichello was not on the team. Ferrari also almost won the championship in 2006 after a winter of testing without Barrichello. In addition, it’s easy to claim that Rubens was a big factor in Brawn’s success, but lets face it, until last year no one knew how good Button was. Going forward, look and what Button is doing at McLaren – he’s won two races, Hamilton hasn’t won yet, and Hamilton is a great talent. So you can’t say for certain that it wasn’t Button who was the major factor in the development of the 2009 Brawn chassis. Now I can’t say for sure that Barrichello wasn’t the major testing factor in both cases, nor am I necessarily claiming he wasn’t, but you can’t really say he was either. Now, I personally don’t dislike Barrichello, he has had some great performances, but when I look at him I see Patrese with more starts. That is to say I think Barrichello is the the greatest “decent” driver in F1 history. I justify that assertion with his 2009 performace. He had a real chance, mid-season, to challenge Button for the championship, but couldn’t do it because he’s not a consistent enough top performer. He’s just decent. There is also what he didn’t do in terms of consistent performance at Ferrari. However, I think its completely wrong to say he doesn’t want to win every race he enters. I just don’t think he’s THAT good. In regards to Williams hiring him, what difference does it make? If Hulkenberg is good, and Williams does not improve, Hulkenberg leaves and goes somewhere else like Rosberg. If Hukenberg ends up being generally useless, Williams loses potential points they may have received with a different driver. At least with Barrichello he’s consistently decent and hence a known quantity for Williams. Also, I don’t really think at this point in his career that’s he’ll be leaving Williams for bigger and better things.

  69. i miss the dominant days of the rothmans-williams-renault

    1. I agree. I also miss the Honda days.

      1. Out of the three manufacturers who’ve recently left F1, I’m guessing Honda is the most likely to come back somewhat sooner than later as an Engine manufacturer. However, I’m guessing that it will be with McLaren, because of the Mercedes situation and because with McLaren, Honda can pretty much guarantee championship competitiveness as long as their engines are up to snuff.

      2. the Sri Lankan
        29th April 2010, 13:25

        i just simply miss the Toyota days

        1. I miss the sight and sound of Alan Jones flat chat around Silverstone at an average speed of 150 mph, something we sadly will never see again.

  70. Stuart Fenton
    29th April 2010, 11:50

    I think for a lot of british people, williams means a lot. What ever generation, you will have a fave driver line up and car. Two great british drivers, and champs, driving for a very british company. That rothmans car was the best looking vehicle to have ever raced. If the VW stuff is true then Im chuffed. I always liked the idea of Lewis doing with Williams what Schumi did with Ferrari. Once hes had a few championships under his belt, going for a new challenger and re-establishing a once great team

  71. @Nutritional

    I was not defending Rubens’ driving ability. It was his input into car development that was under discussion. A drivers’ performances are there for us all to form an opinion on. Everyone forms their own opinion and every opinion is correct. I was challenging Peter’s claim “Rubens did not improve any car he has ever driven in F1”.

    1. pgj, don’t get me wrong either. I wasn’t saying Rubens did not improve the cars he drove, and tried to make it clear that I wasn’t saying that. I was trying to say is that neither you or I could say that he did anymore than PeterG can say that he did not. However, I’m also assuming that when PeterG made that statement that he was exaggerating, and actually meant that Barrichello was not most important driver or overall factor in improving the cars that he’s driven.

  72. As soon as Adrian Newey left it’s gone down, the same will happen to red bull when he leaves them.

  73. I completely agree with what zoid9969,Accidental Mick have said,i jus don’t see it coming from williams.The dooms day is nearing them.And by the way instead of playing golf,they can sit and think about how to get their act right.

  74. I’m a huge admirer of Williams and really hope to see them on the top step of the podium soon…

  75. Mark in Florida
    30th April 2010, 0:09

    Williams at one time was a great team and they have a great legacy to look to.But they face the same problem that affected Richard Petty’s team[King of NASCAR,200+ wins etc.]The racing world shifted away from Petty`s old way of doing things.Instead of investing in a seven post chassis tuner Petty was still doing it the old way.Petty also did not realise that the sponsorship structure was changing.Instead of one main sponsor you might need two or three at different times of the year.Williams looks to be in the same boat as Petty Enterprises. They have sat still while the racing world moved out from under them.For better or worse F1 is not geared towards privateers anymore.The FIA may give lip service about “helping the little guys”. But lets be real,the big manufacturers control the sport.If Williams does not merge resources with someone they will be a continuing sorrow and shadow of their former selves.You can`t keep doing things the same way and expect a different result. Williams needs a shakeup in structure or they to will be like Petty…a fond memory of what used to be.

  76. If you make it almost company policy NOT to retain the services of a driver who has just won the drivers/constructors title(s), what do you expect?

    Mansell ’87 > no points in ’88
    Hill 96
    Villenueve 97 > no points in ’98, ’99, ’00

    How you build a consistently high performing team if you don’t focus it around a winning driver? Ferrari had Schumi, McLaren had Mika..

    1. that Mansell stat is obviously wrong. gaah.

    2. If I recall correctly, Frank Williams is on record as believing that it has always been his cars and not the drivers who have won championships for his team. Again, I’m not sure is a perfect paraphrase. I don’t think it’s a smart opinion either.

  77. Scott Joslin
    30th April 2010, 16:37

    The Williams story is in a depressing chapter of its life.

    It saddens me to see a great team that was so strong in the 80’s and 90’s slowly fading away like that of original Lotus team.

    I think they are ultimately paying the price for not saddling up to a major manufacturer. I accept that BMW didn’t work on many levels, not least because of the differences at the top of both organisations, but what used to be the teams strength in its two leaders, Frank and Patrick, now seems to be there weakness.

    Who am I to say they are out of touch but they always seem to be the grumpy grand parents at the party. I know they have passed on power and control to other key individuals, but there seems to be very little improvement, instead it seems to be going backwards each year.

    Their decision to use Cosworth engines summed up their aspirations for me, and if Frank and Patrick had anything about them they should sell the rest of the business to party that can compete financially without the scars of war that the current team carry.

    I agree also with some comments that their driver selections have also contributed to their downfall. I remember watching documentaries about Williams were they always said they always looked to have real racers in their cars, well that hasn’t been true of them for the last 10 years since say Montoya. How the likes of Ralf Schumacher, Nick Heidfeld, Alex Wurx, Antônio Pizzonia,Kazuki Nakajima, and H.H.Frentzen managed to find seats there is beyond me.

    Their driver selection policy also lost them Adrian Newey, who as we know moved to Mclaren because he was furious at the dropping of world champion drivers like Mansell and Hill, while they were at peak.

    I would love to see the Williams name return to the top step of the podium, but I just cannot see it happening unless there is an imposed budget cut on the teams to help Williams out.

    Williams have produced some legendary drivers and cars, but that is all in the past, I feel that we should celebrate that and let someone else try and take the team further.

    However knowing what fighters Frank and Patrick are, its doubters like me that motivate them to continue to prove us all wrong.

  78. Its just poor management. Nothing to do with resources, they sure haven’t got less than Force India! Infact, its time they handed reins to someone new and competent instead of just dragging on with PH and FW. The old man needs to take some rest and get someone new who can turn it around. Its still possible, but I think the 1st step is to get rid of that Cosworth and somehow lure VW into the sport(those Audi plants could do something good!). They could try for the FO 108X but Mercedes wouldn’t supply to any more teams as far as I can see. Force India were fortunate to have struck a deal before Merc stepped in with their works team. Ferrari engines are not the best and neither are the underpowered Renaults.
    So, an engine change and a change at the top of the management is what can save them from fading away.

  79. I don’t think Williams should worry.Great F1 teams will always have bad times.Ferrari went 4 years without a win and 21 years without a championmship.McLaren also went 4 years without a win and 9 years without a championmship.Williams will come back to glory sooner or later.

  80. It’s not about the engine, pit wall strategies,or the drivers. It’s (as always) all about the car design and sponsorships.

    If Williams have any ambitions to see the top again they need to come up with a pool of cash, offer Adrian Newey a full partnership (Williams-Newey Racing?) and get to the front of the grid. THEN sponsors will take notice and come back, not a moment before. THEN they also have a shot at a better driver selection.

    They have unfortunately rode their legacy as far as it can carry them, and with the debt they are accumulating their future looks bleak.

    What has become of the new German investor/partner they recently touted (can’t recall the name). No specifics as to the money he’s come up with or the percentage of the team he bought. Any hope on that front????

  81. Nick Lawton
    1st May 2010, 20:53

    On paper, it is difficult to see how Williams can pull out of their downward cycle of decline. What was once their strength (Frank Williams tenacious independent spirit and Patrick Head’s engineering nous) now seems to be the cause of stagnation or worse their main weakness. Certainly management issues appear to have been a cause of their problems: the falling out with Montoya (the infamous disciplinary letter), the divorce with BMW (ultimately unrewarding for both parties), the leaving on poor terms of Webber and Rosberg. Succession planning has not gone well, Sam Michael and Adam Parr have not delivered to the level of the team’s forefathers. They need a “game changer” to reverse their fortunes. Ironically, they were ideally placed to benefit from Max Mosley’s view of Cost Reduced Formula 1; the New Age of Austerity may yet prove to be their saviour…

  82. The Limit
    3rd May 2010, 1:37

    I think they will, but choosing Cosworth power I feel was a mistake. I buy into the theory that Williams were probably hoping Toyota would continue to supply them with engines for 2010, and when that failed to pan out, the only other option was with Cosworth. The problem is, Cosworth have been out of the game for a number of years, and already have their hands full supplying all the new teams.
    I always respected Williams for their decision not to sell out to BMW, which four years on looks even more of a shrewd move following BMW’s departure from F1. I value the fact that Frank Williams has always run his team in the true sense of an F1 racing team, and not as a marketing tool like the big manufacturers did. However, I feel the problems stem from the fact that they are simply handicapped by a lack of money compared to their rivals.
    Even Force India, despite being a privately owned team, have the huge resources of billionaire owner Vijay Mallya to count on. Toro Rosso have always benefitted from the Red Bull connection, so that in itself leaves only Williams and the new three teams.
    Its dangerous though to underestimate Frank Williams. Afterall, he has spent thirty five years in the sport as a team owner, and has seen plenty of people come and go in that time. He knows how to get the best from people and how to attract new talent to his squad.

    1. the Sri Lankan
      3rd May 2010, 5:53

      you couldnt have said it better. but to hell with it! i was only watching F1 for Toyota, now that they are gone i dont see anymore point

  83. Williams’ free fall is distressing to say the least. I recently wrote a piece about the reasons behind their decline, one of which is not the drivers needless to say.

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