Williams F1 is one of the finest and successful teams owned by Sir Frank Williams. He started the current Williams F1 team in 1977 after his two unsuccessful F1 operations failed to achieve the success he desired. Frank recruited young engineer Patrick Head to work for the team. Williams F1 has won nine constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ championships. It ranks third in most wins tally with 114 wins. The team was in their purple patch in the 1980s and 90s fighting with Ferrari and Brabham. Some of the famous names that have driven and won the championship for the team are Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost.
The team has had many engine suppliers over time with Mercedes-Benz being the latest. After 1997, the team was unable to maintain its dominance in Formula 1. This happened as Renault ended their full-time involvement in Formula 1. Williams F1 then had to pay for Mecachrome engines, which were old, rebadged Renault F1 engines. While Ferrari and McLaren battled for the Constructors’ and Drivers’ titles, Williams fell to the middle of the field.
In 1999 The team finished fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, the lowest finish for Williams F1 in the 1990s. The team signed with BMW as their engine supplier from 2000-2005. During this period, Williams was doing quite well in the midfield. The team secured two 2nd position and two 3rd position in the constructors’ championships between 2000-2005 with BMW. Williams F1 slowly fall in terms of positions every year. Team’s last victory came with Pastor Maldonado at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix. It was their first victory since the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Williams F1’s partnership with Mercedes
Fortunes again turned for Williams F1 in 2014 as they signed with Mercedes as the engine supplier. The team won its first pole position since 2012, courtesy of Massa at the Austrian Grand Prix. It was the only time that Mercedes would be beaten to pole position throughout the 2014 season. With Bottas qualifying alongside Massa, it was also the first time the team had locked out the front row since the 2003 German Grand Prix. The team enjoyed an upturn in performance, including a double podium in Abu Dhabi, resulting in them taking third place in the Constructors’ Championship.
They repeated this in the 2015 season by taking third place in the Constructors’ Championship. In the 2016 and 2017 season, they were fighting primarily with the then Force India F1 Team for the midfield supremacy. With the retirement of Felipe Massa and Valterri going into Mercedes, Williams F1 found itself in a tough situation and came last in the both 2018 and 2019 season.
The team was already facing issues with drivers leaving, they encountered another big problem of Martini leaving them at the end of the 2018 season. Since then the team has been facing problems with sponsors and had the lowest budget in the 2019 season.
What next for Williams F1
- Change in Leadership – It is about time the team accepts the truth and let someone else take the position of team principal in place of Claire Williams. The team has been in the hands of the Williams family from the very inception. Now is the time someone with much more experience in motorsports is promoted or signed as the team principal. The removal of Paddy Lowe might have been a wrong decision as he was an experienced person in the field of motorsports.
- Sponsorships – Several sponsors have opted to depart the team. These include Orlen, Unilever, Symantec, Omnitude and Tata Communications. With the signing of Nicholas Latifi, Lavazza is the new sponsor for Williams F1. The team has also sold a majority equity stake in sister company Williams Advanced Engineering. Williams F1 should eye some sponsors that remain with the team for longer durations and not the ones that depart with the exit of a driver.
- Experienced driver – Williams F1 should hire experienced drivers like Jenson Button or Felipe Massa as their test drivers rather than youngsters which they have recently signed.
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