There are a few things that are synonymous with Formula 1, Champagne, The Chequered Flag and the Williams F1 team.
Williams F1 have not been in Formula 1 since its inception (that record is left to Ferrari) but they are so connected to the world of F1, it would be hard to imagine a grid without a Williams car.
You would be hard pushed to find anyone who doesn’t have a bit of sympathy for the current state of Williams. Before we head to the 2019 season and predictions for 2020, we need to step back and look at the background of Williams.
Williams have been in the sport since 1977, when Patrick Head and Frank Williams started the Williams F1 team. They purchased a March Chassis to compete in the later half of the ‘77 season.
In 1978 they entered a one car team with Alan Jones as the driver. The car (FW06) powered by the Cosworth V8 was competitive gaining 2 fastest laps and 1 podium in 16 GP starts.
Williams finished 9th in the constructors standings with 11 points, Jones finished in 11th in the drivers standings.
1979 continued the upward trend for Williams, as they finished second in the constructors title behind Ferrari.
The new FW07, with the Cosworth V8 contested 15 races in ‘79 and at the end of the season the Williams team had 5 wins, 10 podiums, 3 poles and 3 fastest laps. The now 2 car team had 75 points and a driver in 3rd and 5th (Jones, Regazzoni) in the Drivers Championship.
1980 saw the first piece of silverware for the Williams team as they won the 1980 Drivers and Constructors Titles. The FW07B with the Cosworth V8 engine was the car to beat, winning almost half of the seasons races (6). In total the team had 6 wins, 19 podiums, 3 poles and 5 fastest laps.
Alan Jones won the Drivers title with 120 points, the other Williams car driven by Reutemann finished 3rd.
In a couple of years Williams were the team to beat. An amazing achievement for such a new team.
In 1981 Williams missed out on the drivers title by 1 point on the last race, but secure the constructors title yet again.
1982 saw the drivers title return to a Williams driver, as Keke Rosberg wins the title by 5 points.
The next couple of years the Williams car is underpowered with them struggling to compete with the turbo cars on the grid. The Cosworth V8 was retired at the end of the ‘83 season and a deal with the turbo powered Honda took over. Unfortunately the Williams Honda FW09B was unreliable. The car was fast when it was reliable as Rosberg was able to show with a win at Dallas.
1985 saw Williams sign Nigel Mansell to partner Rosberg at the expense of Jacques Laffite. The 85 season saw Williams finishing in 3rd in the constructors and Mansell and Rosberg finishing in 5th and 3rd respectively.
This year is a year that will be forever connected to the history of William F1, most notably for Sir Frank Williams and the Williams family.
Sir Frank Williams was seriously injured in a car accident while driving to the airport from a pre-season test at Paul Ricard. Sir Frank Williams was confined to a wheelchair as a result of the accident.
The Williams team did the only thing that they could do, keep winning! The team won the constructors title, Mansell and Piquet finished 2nd and 3rd in the drivers title.
The Modern Era and Williams
As we move to the present day of Formula 1, Williams have amassed 7 drivers titles and 9 constructors titles. However the last podium for Williams was in the 2017 Azerbaijan GP; with the last victory way back in 2012 at the Spanish GP.
Williams have seen a decline in fortunes for some time and unfortunately they have been passed by teams with a much bigger budget. They have usually shown that they could still be in the fight and gather some good points, maybe even steal a podium, however 2019 was not that season.
It starts bad ….
The season started badly when the team were unable to get the car to the pre-season test on time. With the limit on testing, losing days is not a good idea. Things got worse when it was announced by the team that noted Technical chief Paddy Lowe was placed on gardening leave. This was all before the first race in Australia.
…It continues to get worse
Williams were at least 2 seconds off the pace of the cars around them, with reports suggesting that the cars aero was “stalling” mid corner. This showed that there was a fundamental design flaw with the Williams car. The question was, do they have the talent to fix the issues and do they have the budget?
2019 Staff and Drivers
Deputy Team Principle: Claire Williams
Drivers: George Russell and Robert Kubica
Williams announced the driver pairing of Robert Kubica and rookie George Russell. Robert Kubica’s return to the grid had been nothing short of miraculous. Kubica was on the road to super stardom with talk of a Ferrari drive and potential world titles. This all changed when he crashed his rally car during an off-season event. The barrier that he hit, entered the car and almost severed his right arm. Kubica would take 8 years to get another drive in F1.
Robert Kubica just couldn’t get to grips with the new world of F1, some comments have been made with regards to his injury (after his accident he has limited mobility in his wrist) however, it is likely that the time away from F1 has made him lose a couple of seconds. After all the F1 car was a different beast when he was last on the grid.
George Russell came from F2, he was fast and something of a shot in the arm to the F1 paddock. He spoke with maturity and understanding. Very rarely did we hear him moan over the radio, or to the press after a poor qualifying or race.
The Williams situation could see talented drivers buried or forgotten, however it would seem that Russell has bucked this trend, with suggestions that he is going to end up in the Mercedes car in the future. (Russell is a Mercedes Young driver).
The Future and the Pandemic
Williams are in uncharted territory, they have always been winners. If they have had a bad season they usually bounced back quickly. If they are not leading from the front they are competing. 2019 saw the Williams cars at the back consistently with both cars almost always at the rear of the grid. They just couldn’t compete.
This season will be a testing one for the team. They have to at least show that they can compete and fight with the cars in front of them. With a new and very young driver line up in Latifi and Russell, it remains to be seen if they can move closer to the front of the grid, or at least get the back into the fight.
Williams for Sale?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the 2020 season will be very different, the first race will be 1st of 2 races held at the Redbull Ring on the 3rd to the 5th of July, with the 2nd round being held a week later.
During the extended break Williams F1 confirmed the hiring of Ex Mclaren COO Simon Roberts as the teams Managing Director.
Just recently, Williams announced that the team were now looking for investment, with the sale of all or part of the team under consideration. Could we see the Williams name disappear from the F1 grid in the near future?
As part of this announcement, Williams confirmed the termination of the Rokit title sponsorship. A new team livery will be realeased in time for the opening race weekend at the start of July.
The seemingly sudden change of direction from a once fiercly independant team was the financial results of the previous year. These show a loss of around £13million, which is just not sustainable.
It was reported that Toto Wolff had invested into the team (around 5%)
Lets hope that the injection of cash and some new ideas can see the team start to move towards the front of the grid.
Everything F1’s Predictions
Here is what the team thinks will happen this season.
Coops: 10th, they will be competitive and may sneak a couple of points
Rocketman: 10th with a couple of points from Russell
Gary: 10th, hopefully not. Could see a closer battle with the Ferrari powered cars (Alfa Romeo and HAAS)
Tiller: 10th Russell will Beat Latifi