Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Shanghai, 2011

Head to miss races to work on Williams reliability

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Shanghai, 2011
Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Shanghai, 2011

Williams engineering director Patrick Head says he will attend fewer races this year so he can get to the bottom of the reliability problems that have plagued the team so far this year.

Neither FW33 finished the first two races of 2011.

Head told MotorSport magazine: “We have some very good people at all levels on our race team, and I was doubtful that I could add to our work there.

“But the unreliability problems are something we should not have, and I suspect I can contribute more with the engineers and technicians in our factory to help eliminate these.

“So I will probably be less present at the track this year. I shall be taking a keen interest in our progression.”

He also suggested teams may drop the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems because they are too expensive:

“It will be interesting to see how the teams view the value of KERS as the season progresses – all teams are running on tight budgets, and KERS adds considerably to their costs.

“The lack of KERS application in 2010 was by agreement of the teams only, in the light of difficult financial times.

“I wonder whether the teams will consider it to be an asset to F1 by the end of 2011. As an engineer it is extremely interesting technology which has relevance for road vehicles, but added value for racing may be questionable.”

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43 comments on “Head to miss races to work on Williams reliability”

  1. I had a lot of hope for Williams, the car is a complete dog and Barrichello looks like he should just give up. I haven’t really been into Williams since Montoya was there, he made that team at the time. Now they are just pathetic.

    If Williams went bust I wouldn’t miss them.

    1. I would certainly miss them, but only for their illustrious and exciting history. Every time at the start of winter testing for that last few years, I get excited that they might come back as a force to be reckoned with; this year I was hoping more than ever that that was the case…but its simply not. Very sad. They need a shift in their engineering department; with the big PDVSA sponsorship they should have the funds to progress. Who knows.

      1. I would certainly miss them, but only for their illustrious and exciting history.

        Me too. When I see them I don’t think of their history because they are nowhere near their past levels, and they perform worse than newer teams (Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber).
        It is hard for me to identify the current Williams with the one that dominated the early 1990s.

        1. Bigbadderboom
          1st May 2011, 15:45

          I still like to think of Williams as more durable, they are a team with great longevity. Perhaps there fortunes are just bottoming out and they will rediscover some form soon.

    2. Priorities Dept
      29th April 2011, 11:23

      Williams is as integral to the history of F1 as Ferrari or Mclaren. To lose Williams would be like losing Monaco. It is unthinkable.

      1. The same was said about Brabham and Tyrrell.

        And Lotus, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

        1. Douglas62500
          29th April 2011, 12:58

          2013 is probably the last chance for them to go with a bang, under the new rules that should level the playing field. If they still don’t manage to do so by then, they would be in serious trouble…

          1. Ferrari did the opposite in 2009, being extremely slow. Then in 2010 they nearly won the title.
            Williams never improved, and is not improving.

      2. No. Monaco is a track that gives a lot to the sport it has history AND it is still one of the best tracks on the calender. Right now Williams is nothing but a name and a blue livery. They add nothing to the sport. They are just going backwards. They might have a lot of history, but what does it change if they can’t even finish in the points?

    3. UKfanatic (@)
      29th April 2011, 11:57

      I would miss I’m not old enough to have seen all that williams made still I’ve watched I’ve read. The true British racing team (Mclaren as you know was founded by an aussie). I hope people don’t forget the number of british drivers that won with williams and that back then williams was their favourite team. I know and you all know that they will turn it around

      1. Bruce Mclaren = Australian???

        He was a New Zealander!

        I say as a Swede.

        1. It is hard for me to identify the current Williams with the one that dominated the early 1990s.

          Fixy, due also find it hard to identify with the current McLaren as it differs so much from the original McLaren? (in that the original McLaren wasn’t exactly a winning team and had much more ventures inother disciplines?)

          It is one of my pet hates in F1 that people always consider team variation or current trends of teams to not be like teams unless they are winning.

          McLaren is winning and so it’s fine.
          Ferrari the same.

          Williams are winning and so many find it hard to identify the current Williams with tha of the 90’s.
          Lotus, the same.
          Mercedes, Stirling Moss said was not like the real Mercedes because he remembers Mercedes winning and this Mercedes doesn’t win.

          The only way teams will actually be as they ‘should be in peoples minds’ is if we have

          1st in the WDC: a Draw between Ferrari, McLaren Williams and Mercedes

          Can’t people understand that teams have downturns are Williams is in a particularly bad form but it is still the same team as that of the 90’s.

    4. It was awful seeing Barrichello get done over down at the hair-pin in China.

  2. I think this is a rather coded way of Head saying he’s going to be reducing his involvement in the team gradually.

    Hopefully he isn’t/won’t be blamed for the team’s failures of late though as I don’t believe the problem is with Head.

    1. thatscienceguy
      29th April 2011, 13:56

      no code needed, its been common knowledge Head is pulling back from the team and heading towards retirement.

      1. Not only that, it was explicitely mentionned in the IPO documents.

    2. I dont know, he always struck me as a more mechanical than aero designer, if the problem is with their gearbox he might be of some use.

  3. Sadly I agree. Watching a once-great team plod around adds nothing to the sport. Williams dug their own grave by not using the BMW partnership as a basis for something more like McLaren and not planning beyond when the frail relationship fell apart.

    Williams needs new money and new blood. Sorry Sir Frank, but it’s time to step back.

    1. Williams dug their own grave by not using the BMW partnership as a basis for something more like McLaren and not planning beyond when the frail relationship fell apart.

      BMW weren’t happy just supplying engines.

      BMW wanted to fully own the Williams team, but no deal there. So they bought Sauber instead, and then they pulled the plug.

      Williams are purely a racing team, they do not and have no need to produce road cars. Therefore they are reliant on outside engine sources. The current Cosworth deal leaves the team more able to concentrate on the more important things.

      If Williams had been bought by BMW, they might not even be around now.

      1. I think you are right there. Had they taken the BMW option, the team might have been desolved altogether by now.

      2. UKfanatic (@)
        29th April 2011, 12:10

        I Respect Williams for not selling them selfs to the germans like mclaren did fortunatly for mclaren, mercedes had the idea of forming an official team so they sold back their share

      3. I don’t think that’s right. BMW were never in it to own Williams but to partner them like Mercedes did with McLaren. BMW wanted to be in F1 but grew frustrated at Williams only once challenging for the title. Ironically Williams complained about the BMW engine, when it was probably the thing that kept them contending for wins most. When BMW bought Sauber Williams could have still used the engine, but didn’t and the long decline in association with poor engines began.

      4. The current Cosworth deal leaves the team more able to concentrate on the more important things

        I think their main problem is the engine. They outperformed the weak Cosworth last year, getting a few good points and even a pole position. But using the same propulsor as the Hispania and Virgin will get them nowhere than there at the back of the grid.

        1. The Cosworth engine probably isn’t even the worst engine in the entire field.

          The reason that HRT and Virgin are at the back of the grid is simply because of aerodynamics.

          Put the Cosworth engine in a Red Bull or a McLaren and it will win races.

  4. I think it is a good thing for Head to get the spirits up in Williams engineering department at home. They must feel pretty desperate by now with lack of speed and lack of reliability.

    As for KERS, I am not that sure it will get dropped. Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Renault all seem to be doing fine with it and STR, Sauber and FI do not experience any big problems with theirs.

    It might mean, that Williams has come to the conclusion, that their flywheel system just does not fit the current cars and makes it less interesting for his team to use KERS.

    1. Are they still using a flywheel system though ? The system Brundle showed us from Williams KERS room the other week was the same type as the others are all using.

  5. Can’t help but think that Sam Michael, and not Patrick Head, needs to do something … like leave.

    1. To be replaced by?

      There isn’t an Adrian Newey type character currently out of a job. Sam Michael is also just a very small part of a much larger group of engineers. You can’t place blame on just one man. I doubt that he is fully or even partly responsible for an unreliable KERS.

      1. To be replaced by nobody. Williams’ problem at the moment seems to be that they have too many cooks.

        1. ? F1 teams require a few…

          1. They do, but Williams have too many senior technical personnel.

            And Michael is just generally unlikeable.

      2. I bet HRT and Lotus are glad they didn’t decide to run with the Williams KERS system this year.

  6. And Michael is just generally unlikeable.

    Unlikaeble by you or the Williams team? Or just in general? I would say that Patrick Head is probably a less ‘likeable’ person, who doesn’t suffer fools gladly (but who does?). So you wouldn’t expect Sam Michael to still be in a job if Patrick Head didn’t think he was doing it right.

    Also, the last time I checked, Williams had fewer technical personel (senior or otherwise) than most of the top teams.

  7. Williams suffers from conservatism.

    They promised a “radical” design for their 2011 contender.
    Indeed, they made an ultra small gear box that allows a tighter back end. Is that truly radical?
    Then, the sheets came off the McLaren, the Renault and the Torro Rosso. All more radical in design and all are further away from Williams than last year.

    One can argue that “radical” and “innovative” are not the same, but still. If Williams truly thinks they did something radical in F1 this year, they urgenly need to find people with a less conservative view on things.

    1. Douglas62500
      29th April 2011, 13:04

      I dont know but judging from experts’ opinions I think the FW33 is radical only on the gearbox / rear end combination…Shame… With a development cycle spanning over an entire season I really did think it would be an easy task for them to achieve 4th in the constructor’s standings but, it doesn’t look like that now… Shame..

      1. It really is too early to tell which teams will successfully develop and which will fall back. What I find amazing is the difference in pace between the teams this year, given that the regulation changes are less pronounced than last year. There do at least seem to be a lot of different approaches to design and when this happens some will be more successful than others. Red Bull and Ferrari seem to have ‘evolved’ their cars, with Red Bull doing so much more successfully (so far). Some teams have had new or ‘radical’ ideas – McLaren, Torro Rosso and to a lesser extent Williams. McLaren took a while to begin realising their potential and it is possible that their car turns out to be fundamentally faster than the Red Bull. Likewise the Williams might have more to offer.

  8. I would say that the most conservative competitive car on the grid is the Ferrari. You can’t really point to anything on it and say: “That’s why it’s faster than a Williams”.

    Williams do have the most radical rear end on an F1 car, even more so than the ‘tight rear ended’ Red Bull. But Williams’s main problem seems to be reliability, not speed.

  9. Williams were the only team who came up with fly wheel KERS, now I guess that is less expensive then battery power.So is that system banned in F1.If not then why aren’t they using it given it is efficient & reliable.

    1. Apparently the packaging doesn’t fit well with the large fuel tanks required for no refueling.

      At least I think thats what they said (and whether what they said was true is another matter entirely!)

  10. Wasn’t it Williams who said they were not bound by the agreement not to run KERS.

    1. That was at the end of 2009 I think when they threatened to run their flywheel. Given McLaren’s cheekiness of the F-Duct I don’t see why they shouldn’t have!

  11. James Williams
    29th April 2011, 20:25

    It’s horrible seeing such a magnificent team doing so poorly. But they will always be magnificent to me. Even if they finish last, their history speaks for itself. I will always support them.

  12. “I wonder whether the teams will consider it to be an asset to F1 by the end of 2011. As an engineer it is extremely interesting technology which has relevance for road vehicles, but added value for racing may be questionable.”

    I think that’s a fair statement. He’s not outright saying that KERS isn’t F1 relevant. It’s also silly for anyone involved in F1, fan or otherwise to judge it so early on. 2013 will be brilliant for this.

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