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Williams adrift in midfield battle
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Photo: Williams
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Aug 2011   |  10:04 am GMT  |  94 comments

It’s good from time to time to glance at the Constructors’ Championship table and remind yourself of the big picture in terms of the state of play between teams. There is the usual disproportionate sharing of points with the top two or three teams hogging the majority and the new teams desperate for even a sniff of a single point.

But it’s the midfield teams which are so interesting at the moment.

Last year the top four teams were followed by Renault in fifth, then Williams, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso.

This year Renault has 66 points, Sauber 35, Force India 26, Toro Rosso 22. They are all reasonably close to each other on performance, either qualifying around the fringes of the top ten or, in Toro Rosso’s case, managing to get cars regularly into the points using a particular race strategy. The odd one out is Williams, with only 4 points on the board, down in 9th place in the table.

The car clearly has its difficulties, not least that in races it is quite hard on its tyres and for much of the season it has had a poor start performance, losing many places off the grid. But Pastor Maldonado has managed to qualify it in the top ten three times since Barcelona. The problem has been converting that into points. Rubens Barrichello’s two ninth places from Monaco and Canada are all the team has to show for the season so far.

I asked him over the Hungarian GP weekend whether he thought the team would be able to bridge the points gap with some strong results, as it did in the second half of last season.

“If we don’t improve the fundamental problem, if we keep on testing and experimenting then we are going to score points but not in that range,” said Barrichello. “Unless we go to a race where there are 15 cars off and you finish on the podium.

“The car has its problems. If we don’t go down under and cure the whole situation to start growing again and we keep just changing the top then it’s just like masking.

“It’s not a lack of effort that Williams isn’t bringing new things. They are bringing loads of new things, but they are not working. Last year some of them did work and then our year improved so much. Right now, we are trying new stuff and not feeling that it’s getting there.”

Last season Barrichello qualified in the top ten in nine of the last ten races and scored three top seven finishes. That’s the kind of performance Force India is showing now with its updated car.

Barrichello has been keen to volunteer to test and evaluate things, such as running without KERS in Germany to see if that helped with rear tyre issues.

And he points out that the team is actually in the fortunate position of having a new technical director, Mike Coughlan, focussed on next year’s car and the old TD, Sam Michael, working on developing this year’s car.

“We have Mike Coughlan working on next year and Sam is being paid already so we might as well use him to do something for this year. In that respect we are quite lucky. We just need to improve the damn car.”

Williams boss Adam Parr said at the start of the season that the team’s business model required them to finish in the top five or six in the championship. Currently sixth place Sauber is 31 points ahead and that looks like a very steep hill to climb from where the team is now.

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94 Comments
  1. wayne says:

    Williams, Via Parr, has upset me lately. Parr’s reaction to the whole SKY/BBC deal was incredibly patronising, arrogant and entirely insensitive. He managed to say just the wrong thing at the wrong time when what was called for was measured humble pie from FOTA, all of whose protestations about ‘free to air being critical to F1′ and ‘F1 is not going anywhere without the team’ were utterly worthless once they were shown a lot of zeros by Murdoch.

    Williams are not my ‘second team’ anymore for the foreseeable future. Not interested in turning this thread into andother SKY/BBC debate but Parr’s approach (speaking on behalf of Williams) angered me and many others judging by the web’s various forums and mnessage boards.

    1. Jonathan says:

      So do you honestly think the BBC were up and raring to go with a new contract?

      Get real. They didn’t want any part in it, even for the last year of the contract. Bernie has really done well to at least tie down the sport until 2018 as he has done – no-one wants adverts during the race and neither Channel 5 nor Channel 4 can afford it.

    2. bmw1806 says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Wayne! As I am disabled and a wheelchair user following motor bike accident, Frank Williams is one of my heroes, but Parr’s comments have totally upset me and now, for me, Williams is just a team running in F1!

    3. Jarv027 says:

      Here here!, I’m finding it hard to support Williams after Parr’s stupid comments, asking the fans to pay more money to make their car go quiker.

      1. Benson Jutton says:

        Ive just read the article on autosport where Parr pontificates over reducing costs. It is a sign of the arrogance of the man that he assumes the fans are not intelligent enough to be able to distinguish between costs (to which the F1 teams have an input) and revenues (which the fans pay).

        Frankly how dare he chastise us for not supporting his Williams-centric world-view.

        In my opinion the BBC made a decision clouded by unenlightened self-interest. They coudnt afford to carry on the over-produced format of F1, but didnt want a terrestrial competitor to reap the benefit of their investment. So they sold out to SKY.

        Thanks BBC. I pay your damned salary. I have thought long and hard, nd will not be buying a SKY package. Nor will I support Williams while that man is there.

    4. Rich says:

      Please sign this everyone.

      ——————————-

      James is it possible you could have a link to this on your page? You dont have to support just offer the link to people who want to vote? Someone from the media has to help us!! Please.

      http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57

      1. Phil says:

        My god! You people need to get over it. Welcome to the real world where you have pay (through subscription or advertising) for watching F1. The rest of the world does it. We’re not spoon feed into comatose states by our bleeding heart government organisations like the BBC.
        If you want free TV find a time machine and go back to the 19050’s. Otherwise welcome to the 21st century.

      2. Rich says:

        Haha. Im not that bothered personally about the money. Its just that Sky is BAD TV. Bad quality. Who wants to pay for bad coverage?!

      3. iceman says:

        We don’t need to go back to the 1950s. We just need to go back to… well, in fact we don’t need to go back in time at all because we are enjoying the best ever coverage of F1 right now, without a subscription fee.

        It’s a pretty depressing attitude to accept that the future must inevitably be worse than the present.

        You omitted the third way of paying for things: through taxation (the licence fee). I think it’s pretty clear from all the comments we’ve seen that this is the model that UK fans prefer.

      4. MISTER says:

        You should do some reading about the UK system then write your thoughts.
        In the UK, we already pay for a licence. This would be like paying twice. As far as I’m concerned, I am not happy with the new deal, but I’ll go over it.
        I’ll just watch the BBC covered races and for the others the highlights. But those who are against it, I think they feel that way because we already pay a fee and will not be able to watch the most watched programe in a Sunday.

        This is one thing I don’t understand either.

        If the program would not have good audience, I could understand BBC. But when the programe had over 6 million viewers, why quit? To put something else which will be watched by 5000 viewers?

      5. mad max says:

        Phil, there is a big difference with paying through watching a few adds and paying £61 a month to watch(which also includes adds except for the race).

        I’m not even British but just saying.

      6. Richard D says:

        Going to the 19050′s to see what F1 is going to be like would be fun. I doubt we’ll have any in Europe by then but I bet Bernie will still be in charge ;)

      7. Phil says:

        @ Mister
        “You should do some reading about the UK system then write your thoughts.”
        I do.

        “In the UK, we already pay for a licence. This would be like paying twice.”

        Not really. Your licence fee covers the cost of the BBC (and any other Government funded broadcasting). The end game of such an argument like that is, if by the fact that you pay a licence fee and that should be it for TV, then all UK TV should be Government Funded without any commercial or advertising revenue. But it’s doesn’t work like that. Here is why:

        Your license fee isn’t a guarantee to free television, it isn’t a guarantee to certain sports (like F1) being free for you to watch. Your licence fee pays for the services BBC provides. If BBC does not want to provide live F1 coverage all season as part of its services, then your license fee doesn’t give you the right to watch that level free F1.
        If BBC were to keep its F1 coverage as is, given its budget constraints, the only way to cover the cost would be to increase licence fee, then you’d be paying more, as you would for Sky. It’s a zero sum game.

        @Mad Max
        “a big difference with paying through a few adds and paying £61 a month to watch(which also includes adds except for the race).”

        Depends on how much you value F1 as a product to you. As someone who watches F1 with advertising (for too much in my opinion), I’d happily pay the money to watch ad free races (plus all the extra sport and other channels I’d get in association with my pay TV subscription). Same as above, if a broadcaster can’t afford the rights their paying, they have to increase their revenue, in ad free to air broadcast, that might mean more ads during the race. It gets to a point where the loss of enjoyment in viewing because of ads adds up to equal or more than paying for continues coverage.

        @Rich
        “Its just that Sky is BAD TV.”
        That is the best argument that’s been put forward. The licence argument is rubbish, but knowing that a broadcaster has terrible production values is a legitimate argument. And that argument should apply to whether it’s paid for by your loss of viewing because of ads, or you paying through TV licences.

      8. Jeff says:

        Speaking as a Brit living in the USA for a number of years now, I do miss the BBC’s advert-free coverage and the frenetic excitement of Murray Walker (a.k.a. Muddly Talker). I can’t comment on Eddie, Martin, Daid and the rest, since I left the UK long before they took the reins.

        For the sake of British race fans, I hope they are able to show a decent highlight show for the non-live BBC races, but motorsport has always been a poor second to such sports as cricket, horse racing and football in the UK, particularly the 2-wheeled variety, so this development was regrettable, but probably inevitable.

        In comparison with the UK, the general quality of free-to-air coverage in the USA is woefully poor, so I’ve already bitten the bullet and purchased cable, principally in order to get BBC America, Speed TV (for F1) and the Discovery suite of channels.

        Speed TV is a News Corporation channel, so unfortunately I have to pay Murdoch to watch F1. Having said that, the mostly British commentary trio are very good and if Sky choose to tap into that same commentary crew of Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Bob Varsha, I doubt you will be disappointed with the coverage quality.

        They show several races in the middle of the season on Fox Network TV on tape delay, mainly in order to avoid a clash with morning Sunday religious programming. In the first couple of years, they used Derek Daly as the anchor, who appeared to be completely clueless about modern F1 and was extremely irritating to listen to. These days, they use the regular Speed channel team for commentary, so the several hours delay from actual race time is the only additional annoyance versus the Speed TV coverage.

        Regarding the annoying adverts, I run a PC-based DVR, which allows me to skip all the ads. I simply start watching the pre-race show about 40 minutes later than normal. When the ads appear, I simply hit the right cursor button on the keyboard a few times, and I’m back to the action. By the time I get to the end of the race, I’ve almost caught up with the recording, and I don’t have to watch the ads.

        Jeff

      9. mad max says:

        Say James wants to keep his options open so can’t very well put that link on his home page as Rupert wouldn’t like it!

    5. BIG Al 56 says:

      I have to agree about the comments from Adam Parr. He seems to have been doing it all year! The tv deal can hardly be described as good for the fans, and any cost-cutting is pretty much unseen from a casual fans’ point of view. Until the fans become important nothing will change an these decisions will continue to be made in the interests of BE an the teams.

      1. mad max says:

        Totally agree Wayne, Adam Parr has probably done the worst PR job in the history of public relations this last month. I can hardly believe some of the stuff he has been saying.

        Williams has a lot of fans but they aren’t going to gain many more with the likes of this guy around.

      2. FordGT40 says:

        I wasn’t impressed with his comments either. Williams isn’t winning on the track and seemingly isn’t winning the PR war off the track either.

      3. Neil says:

        Listed companies don’t need happy fans, they need happy shareholders.

        The only reason for happy fans is (tenuously) to keep advertisers happy, as that leads (pretty directly) to happy shareholders.

        Oil companies are generally pretty unpopular, but they have historically had well performing shares. Ditto banks.

        Neil.

      4. wayne says:

        Neil, oil companies do not need to attract large user-centric sponsors do they?

    6. Phil says:

      Parr called a spade a spade, and only the English can’t seem to recognise this. F1 is forever moving and evolving, and all this proves is that English fans are stuck in the mud and can’t adapt with the sport.
      Parr was right, and if you can’t handle that, and you’re going to stop supporting Williams because if it, you cannot truly call yourself a Williams/F1 fan.

      1. Rich says:

        Wrong. Downgrading award-winning TV coverage is not evolving im afraid!

      2. Phil says:

        Rich you don’t know what the coverage will be like. You’re making a subjective attack based on your dislike of SKY or because you’re bitter about paying (or whatever it might be).
        The SKY coverage might be better than BBC, you don’t know.

      3. Marc says:

        @ Phill have you ever watched Sky Sports and the inane lets treat the audience like idiots comments they make ? sorry Phil im in agreement with Rich The BBC got a BAFTA for their coverage of the final race of last year I dont know for sure but can you tell me how many BAFTAS sky sports has managed to date ?

      4. Jeff says:

        With a bit of luck, they’ll tap into the same team that present the live F1 coverage for Speed TV in the USA. They are:
        Steve Matchett – British ex-Benetton F1 Pit Crewman,
        David Hobbs – British ex-F1, Le Mans and Indycar racer, and
        Bob Varsha – American TV presenter.

        If they do this, you may be pleasantly surprised by how knowledgeable and entertaining the commentary team are.

        Jeff
        (Brit, now living in the USA)

      5. paul says:

        @phil
        Have a look on the Sky website for the clips regarding F1 coming to Sky. Listen to Watson explaining what F1 is. If you think that the quality of discussion is there, then feel free to lambast any criticisms of Sky coverage. However, I think the majority of F1 fans will cringe and shudder at the prospect of this level of coverage.

        http://www.skysports.com/video/clips/0,23791,13987_7066760,00.html?DCMP=Sky-search-sslc

  2. Derek Lorimer says:

    Seems a long time since Williams were a front runner. I wonder if it is time for Frank and Patrick to call it a day. I don’t think replacing Sam Michael will make much difference. Unfortunately they look a team in long term decline like Lotus in the early 1990s

    1. KGBVD says:

      Long decline… Lotus, Tyrrell, Brabham, Jordan… All super F1 teams with huge fan bases that died horrible, pathetic deaths.

      I agree that it may be time for Frank and Patrick to take a bow, but maybe they should take the team with them.

      When Williams went public I was hoping that they would be snapped up by a manufacturer, or at least a corporation from which they would benefit (a la Red Bull). Instead 100s of small investors who wanted the thrill of owing a small piece of a legendary F1 team get to watch it die (along with their investments).

    2. rvd says:

      ” I wonder if it is time for Frank and Patrick to call it a day.”

      Seems like they did that about 4 years ago. Too much time spent on “company business” , they’ve lost their dedication to racing.

    3. Jo Torrent says:

      Actually, Frank and Patrick did call it a day. They’re not the ones running WilliamsF1, it’s Adam Parr who does it.

  3. jmv says:

    If a driver complains that the way the weekend is planned towards testing a bunch of components and not sticking to a particular configuration over 3 races… then to me it shows that there is a disagreement internally on the method to extract the performance from the car.

    We’ve seen this last year with Mercedes, when they stopped developing their car in the final 5-6 races, they found speed, because they started to understand the “static” configuration.

    We’ve seen the challenge for the big teams like McLaren and Ferrari to bring new components to the track and needing 1-2 races to make them work.

    So perhaps Barrichello is right… stop bringing so many components to the races and focus more on working on existing issues.

    Easier said than done… but the bottomline here seems that there is major internal disagreement on the method to test components and extract performance.

    Off course you have the factory pushing components out… and then can the weekend race team say: we wont test it because we want to carry on testing and perfecting the configuration of 3 races ago?

    Lack of overall leadership, it seems to me.

  4. L33t_Of_Lag says:

    Williams will be back, mark my words :D

    1. Daniel Hoyes says:

      I think you’ll be right, but only because it’s like saying “Jordan will be back” a few years ago. It will get better; but they will need so many changes that it will be virtually a different team by the time the improvement comes.

      1. L33t_Of_Lag says:

        of course. But being a williams fan, have been since i was young, i cant imagine F1 without them :)

    2. . says:

      After they get 3 times the budget they have now, maybe.

    3. Kristiane says:

      So what if they don’t? hehe

    4. Baktru says:

      Surely you meant Williams will be at the back?

      If the trend continues, they’ll be fighting with the Virgins and Lotuses soon.

  5. Proesterchen says:

    So, Williams, having made big waves about their new car before the start of the season, find themselves severely lacking in competitiveness and development pace.

    Just like any other year of the past decade+.

    Makes you wonder why they let the dude responsible for half the dudd years keep working on it, having paid him or not.

    1. Ben G says:

      Quite.

  6. phil says:

    After Adam Parrs comments I feel I should withdraw my support from Williams until they get their act together. If they want us to pay our way to watch F1 I don’t want to see past it teams scrabbling around trading on past glories with a veteran and rookie pay driver.

  7. MJ Sib says:

    I agree with Rubens in that this year’s car just isn’t fast enough which for a team with the history of Williams isn’t good enough. However with the Renault engines, the appointment of Mike Coughlan and the ever improving Pastor Maldonado, I think that next year will be much better

  8. Arnie S says:

    “Four top teams”??? It should read three, I presume, Mercedes would be “best of the rest” but they are most certainly not a “top-team”

    1. iceman says:

      Yes, I’d say there’s really a “second division” in the constructors championship that comprises Mercedes and Renault. Then Sauber, Force India, Torro Rosso and Williams in the third division. If Lotus keep improving then Williams will find themselves relegated to a fourth division with Lotus next season.

    2. fullblownseducer says:

      Mercedes, the new Toyota..

      1. Neil says:

        Still an improvement from the old Honda then!

    3. KGBVD says:

      Agreed. Renault is only 16 points behind Merc, whereas Williams is 62 points behind Renault. It’s hardly the same battle, and kind of insulting to Renault to group them in the midfield and not include Merc as well.

      Looks to me like this should be disaggregated further:
      -Top 3;
      -Best of the rest: Merc and Renault;
      -Midfield 3 (FI, STR, Sauber);
      -Back of the pack: Williams hoping to God that Lotus doesn’t luck into the same points they have, plus and the rest.

      1. Iain says:

        It is a bit hard to look at it that way because RBR is 178 points ahead of 3rd place – so can you really say there is a top 3 if your using points as the discriminator (as you did to separate the middle 6)?

      2. KGBVD says:

        I suppose it’s all relative, considering the top three are fighting for potentially 43 pts per race, whereas williams is lucky to get one.

    4. olivier says:

      Sadly I have to agree with you. Shame that Schumacher’s comeback has been wasted. I hope they will be more entrepreneurial with next year’s car …

    5. terryshep says:

      Quite right, Arnie, there are three chairs at the top table, not four. In fact, Bar/Honda/Braun/Mercedes have only ever produced a decent car once, by default of most of the other teams and their effort was flattered by having a WDC in waiting, Jenson.

      The moment the other teams woke up and incorporated the DD into their cars, the Braun quietly submerged to its normal level of competitiveness, obliging Jenson to dig deep in Brazil.

      Mercedes should certainly be able to hoist themselves up to the top table, they have both the finance and the organization, but they will have to find some real design talent to achieve it. So far, it seems to me that they are churning out run-of-the-mill racing cars and relying on the drivers to get a result.

      It can’t please the Daimler-Benz Board to see this, so sooner rather than later, they will act. They can’t leave so soon after coming in, so there will be a shakeup, heads will roll, money will be injected. Maybe then we’ll see the real Mercedes-Benz.

      1. Kristiane says:

        I remember back in Honda days, in their final two F1 seasons, Jenson complained the car’s front and rear seem to “argue” with each other. The car couldn’t be setup correctly. To me it seems like there are disputes between the front and rear aero teams. They only managed to get the title in 2009 as Brawn due to major rules change which they found a giant loophole.

        Mid-season 2009 onwards, Jenson again complained the car felt wrong, different to the one he had at beginning of the season.

        Major flaws in the design team if you ask me.

      2. John Stuart says:

        I think that Mercedes are suffering from over inflated expectations. If you want to be brutal about it, Brawn got lucky in 09, in several ways.

        For a start off, they (Honda) stopped working on their 08 car, to concentrate on their 09 car. They were one of the teams to find the loophole as regards the double diffuser, and i believe theat they got lucky when when Honda pulled out too.

        When Honda pulled out, they took their engines and KERS systems, and got Mercedes engines in return (probably the best all round engine of the past years).

        This also meant that they werent lumbered wit hte extra weight of the KERS, and there is no guarantee that they would’ve done any better than McLaren or Ferrari, the only two teams who had any kind of success with KERS.

        When the other teams caught up, they could’nt come uip with any new ideas, allied ot the fact that they trimmed their workforce down before Mercedes bought them outright, at the moment they are at their rightful level i.e. not doing too badly, but not great either.

      3. Even a bad car is a rocket-ship if you add a lot of power and a lot of downforce.

        If you’ve got 20% more downforce, you can drive at 98% and kill the competition… and any racing car drives like a dream at 98%; it’s when you get to 100% that the evil nature of a racing car starts to come out.

        I think Button was able to cruise at 98% for the first half of 2009, and when Red Bull figured out what they were doing in the latter half, Button had to take it up to 100%. It was only then did the same issues from 2008 come to the surface since he had to start pushing hard to stay ahead.

  9. Bec says:

    I used to be a big supporter of Williams, still have an original Williams Renault jacket, but quite frankly I couldn’t support any team that has Alan Parr associated with it.

    1. Bec says:

      … Adam (damn predictive text)

  10. meens says:

    I’ve supported this team for over a decade and seen a steady decline in that time.

    I’m curious about how much teams earn for their constructors points at the end of the season, and how such a bad year might affect Williams’ (already lean) budget for next year?

  11. Jesper Mathias Nielsen says:

    I would have liked to see a comment regarding the significance of the Cosworth engine in the situation.

  12. Andy C says:

    Williams remain my second team, and I’ll probably always look out for how they are doing.

    There are reasons to be positive, Coughlan and Renault are both excellent additions (although I dont think the Cosworth engine is at all the weak component).

    In Pastor I think they have a driver who will improve (much like everyone wrote petrov off last year) in the coming months and years. The fact that he comes with good sponsorship allows them to have some financial sound footing.

    I’ve heard it said many times that Sam is stretched too thinly, as is his team.

    Didnt I see at the same time Mike Couglan was joining that they’d hired someone else (I’m afraid I’ve lost the name in my memory) for Aero?

    For what its worth, I honestly think it is now time for Rubens to be replaced (Hulkenburg would be great… again….). He was saying that back end of last year people has started listening to him on the direction of next years car and he was very positive. That worked out well then.

  13. Keith says:

    It’s a shame and almost sad the way Williams have fallen to the back. I guess it’s easy to say many things from our side of the fence, but the vibe and feeling from the outside does seem to suggest a political poison inside the Williams camp.

    Must also be a very frustrating time for Rubens, who only a few years ago was winning races.

    I hope for Rubens and F1 that they get their s**t together soon!

  14. Christopher Snowdon says:

    Kudos to Force India, they lost an awful lot of their top technical staff (at a time when their car was pretty quick) which did set them back, but they have regrouped and have come on leaps and bounds. Nice to see a team not bemoan their fortune, get on, work hard and reap the deserved results.

    It’s sad to see the demise of Williams, a team we all love, bit it does make you wonder why they didn’t offer Adrian Newey what he wanted (was it a management position or something??). James is this a major cause of regret at Williams?

    On a more positive note, can’t wait to see Williams Renault, one of Formula one’s made in heaven partnerships.

    1. Athlander says:

      I thought Williams did what they could to retain Newey but he was determined to leave.

      1. JamesF1 says:

        As I understand it, Newey wanted a shareholding in the team which Frank and Patrick weren’t willing to provide at the time.

      2. Christopher Snowdon says:

        I had a feeling it was something along those lines, thinks its logic to say if they had given him what he wanted he’d still be there, especially as he would have been a shareholder. I’m sure you guys would agree that was a disaster of a decision. Not on the same scale, but there are probably similar moans and groans at Mclaren to.

        Would love to know if James has any inside track on whether there is regret at William’s, as in my view they paid a heavy price for loosing him.

  15. Steve says:

    Perhaps it would be worthwhile considering both Williams and Sauber getting together to form a single team. Would it produce a larger private team with more clout capable of taking it to the top three? Just a thought…

    1. Kristiane says:

      +1

      Now that’s an idea no one ever thought of =)

      Though I doubt this’ll work.

      1. Neil says:

        If a large south american oil company is interested in a relationship with a large south american telecoms company, it might have legs!

        Neil.

  16. Martin,UK says:

    I think floating on the stock market has just increased the pressure on the williams team and drivers which may be putting them into conflict and trying for quick fixes rather than sorting fundamental flaws.

    As others have said think Adam Parr has given Williams some bad publicity re SKY/BBC deal. Didn’t quite understand the relevance of it. Saying its fans fault F1 is expensive and we should support cost reduction in F1, I don’t remember fans having a big say in that issue, it was the teams who couldn’t agree.

  17. Steve Ellis says:

    Every year we hear how Williams is going to move up the grid and every year they don’t. They are the team version of Coulthard. Next year, next year, so on and so forth. I’m glad team scab is awash in mediocrity. Hopefully it folds one day. I haven’t forgotten they were the first to bail out when the teams were fighting against Mosely. Frankly I haven’t liked them since they tossed Mansell aside for Prost.

    1. Forzaminardi says:

      Tossed Mansell aside for Prost? You mean when Mansell threw a hissy because he didn’t want to be beaten by Prost (again)?

      1. Athlander says:

        I’m sure Prost had a clause saying that he wouldn’t have Mansell or Senna as a partner. He subsequently agreed to allow Mansell as a partner but by then he was already miffed by the situation.

        Even as a Mansell fan, I can’t say it was a bad decision by Williams – Prost and Hill delivered.

        Incidentally, I presume merchandising has no place in Williams’ business model (I’m sure it’s doable, based solely on prize money, sponsorship, technology licensing and corporate services). It can be the only reason they allow someone as hostile to fans as Parr to speak to the media.

    2. Kristiane says:

      “They are the team version of Coulthard”

      No disrespect to Coulthard but LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I like Coulthard tho.

      1. Kam says:

        What a very successful racing driver, who achieved more in F1 that most drivers could dream of?

        Or a well respected man even after F1?

        Typical British view on our sports person- just because the did not acheive a championship. The same goes for Henman- a top 10 tennis player in his prime.

  18. Michael Lea says:

    Looking at the results for Williams, it strikes me that under the old top 6 or even top 8 point systems, they would still be on zilch. That’s a pretty terrible situation for them to be in. In 2007, Barrichello scored no points for Honda, but had a best of 9th, the same as his best for Williams in 2011. So if anything, the new top 10 point system masks their problems slightly more. I can’t see them winning again any time soon…although Maldanado deserved a good few points in Monaco, so they have had the odd bright-ish spot.

  19. giorgio ch. says:

    Hi James,

    It’s perhaps a bit off topic, but think it’s interesting matter.
    In the beginning of the season, Christian Horner pointed out regarding the situation with engines. As he said, because of the lack of power of Renault unit they are loosing some 0.3-0.4 sec per lap compared to competitors with Merc or Ferrari engines.
    For sure this retardation depends on track’s configuration and will change from layout to layout, but could you please Clarify, whether the situation is similar that at start of season, or just it’s diminished a bit, I mean the effect of engine power lack is minimized (is there any assessment of how many tenths it could be per lap). Or do RBR engineers deal with same issue; as Horner said: our performance to be superb, to recover this power lack and beat competitors…

  20. Jem says:

    Adam Parr is classic CEO material.

    In many ways, he reminds me of Max Mosley, both ex-lawyers, both very intelligent and applying the unemotional methods of big business management over a sport that makes a huge amount of money (although Mosley is more of a motorsport enthusiast than I suspect Parr is).

    And although I like them, Williams have never been the cuddliest team in the paddock have they? :)

    Aside from that, maybe there’s a longer game being played here by Adam Parr. I wonder if he isn’t quietly eying up Todt’s job …

    1. Stevie P says:

      Jem, I have no doubts at all that Mr Parr is positioning himself very well for future moves into higher positions -> i.e., he “talks” a lot, but “says” very little.

  21. JTW says:

    When an organization (team or whatever) is continually failing to perform, look to the common denominator, which in this case is ownership. Until that changes, in spite of best wishes and the flogging of past glories, this team will not change its lackluster performance levels.

  22. Rich C says:

    They just need to bite the bullet and become less ‘independent’: buy a successful engine/tranny combo from one of the top teams and become a “semi-customer car” like everyone else.

  23. Tim Parry says:

    Williams has certainly been ‘snake-bit’ this year. During pre-season testing, they were testing the new gearbox that was the darling of the media. When that didn’t pan out it seemed to take the wind out of their sails and things went from bad to worse. Radical chic just ain’t cuttin’ it this year.

  24. Steed says:

    Running an F1 team looks a pretty gruelling business to me, one that can’t get any easier as you get older. Frank Williams and Patrick Head are approaching their 70′s. Maybe it’s time to step down and take a well earned retirement

    As a company that held an IPO, there is a duty to protect the shareholders interest – this is no longer a lifestyle business.

    It would be a shame to let that great heritage fade away, when some dynamic new leadership could re-energise a team that is clearly in the doldrums.

  25. Nick Hipkin says:

    It saddens me to say but I find it impossible to see Williams ever winning a race again, they will likely be the first of the established teams to be overtaken by Lotus in the next couple of years

  26. Bayan says:

    I have faith. They will be back on form.

  27. Dominic J says:

    I swear they have said “next year will be better” for quite a long time now.

    I will remain a Barrichello fan, but Adam Parr has stopped me from supporting his team (for the first time since that moment in Austria with Ferrari). Still, I would prefer to see Rubens in a quicker car.

    Do you have any way of assessing how well they might have performed, having saved tyres, if Budapest had been dry?

  28. Casimir says:

    The one problem facing Williams, beyond anything else, is that they don’t have a race winning driver at the helm. I know Rubens has won races in the past, but he is no longer out and out quick enough to be regarded as a top 3/5 driver any more.

    Having a Senna (or modern day nearest equivalent) at the wheel would do wonders for them. Firstly, they would understand just HOW fast or slow their car really is. They’d also maximise the potential of what they have, and this would change the morale.

    Right now, I’m not sure if the design or engineering teams have absolute faith in their driver line-up either. So no-one trusts anyone, and a lot of F1 depends on pure, blind faith.

    All this being said, when will Williams ever have a young race winning driver at the helm? They are famous for not paying driver’s large salaries, and that is what it would take to lure someone of that ilk. I wonder if they have the funds at their disposal if they wanted to sign someone?

    1. Rich C says:

      They definitely need to ‘pull one out of the hat’ and somehow land a young gun thats quick out of the box. Maldanado has done ok, but they need somebody to blow the doors off everybody else.

      I suppose all the teams have at least an informal way of tracking prospects, but Williams need to step it up and dedicate some serious resources to a continuous search for talent. They need to uncover and sign the next Hamilton or Vettel.

    2. Daniel Gomes says:

      This is nonsense. Two years ago Rubens was blowing everyone out of the water because he had a great car. Now you want some ‘young race winning driver’ behind the wheel?

      Do you really think Vettel or Hamilton would do any better than Rubens? Maybe, and I said MAYBE, they would occasionally beat him for 3 tenths or so and that’s it, which would be expectable.

      The car is a dog. End of.

      1. Agreed.

        When they are 3 tenths off pole, then ditch Rubens for a young-gun.

        When they are 1.5 seconds off pole, keep Rubens so he can help develop the car.

  29. Forzaminardi says:

    I think its fair to say Adam Parr is not exactly the most popular F1 boss of the moment! I have to agree, and just as I wondered why they hung onto Sam Michael for so long, I wonder why Parr has been able to assume such power and not face up to his very evident failings so far. Like Michael, he seems to have been very highly rated by Frank and Patrick but has probably been promoted to a position beyond his competence. I think this season is a write-off for Williams but I have hopes that the new team and Renault can bring about an improvement next year – and that Rubens keeps his chin up. Roll on 400 races, Rubinho!

  30. Rudy Pyatt says:

    As others have noted above, there are several reasons for Williams’ prolonged sojourn in no-man’s land.

    Williams now looks like Lotus did toward the end. Going back a bit more, people sometimes forget that Colin Chapman was often criticized for what most take to be his greatest strength – always looking for the Next Big Thing rather than the more conservative “consolidate and refine” approach. But history shows that Chapman was at his most successful when he steadily refined a new concept, rather than quickly dropping it and taking the next big chance (viz., the 16 was overcomplicated, the 18 was simple. The 18 won races. The 25 developed incrementally into the 33, winning championships or coming close to doing so; the 49 was steadily refined; ditto the 72. Overreaching came back with the Lotus 80).

    BRM followed much the same path – successful when simple, laughing stock when they got too cute. V16 overcomplicated farce, no matter how glorious the sound. V8 = victory, H16 = return to farce. V12 and simple chassis (P153 developed into P160) = winner.

    Williams has gotten too cute. They haven’t had a consistent technical direction – veering from one “next big innovation” to another rather than evolving a solid, basic concept over time – in years. The “walrus” car; flywheel KERS; ultra-compact gearbox and rear packaging. You can’t hit a moving target (getting on terms with the competition) if the target in your own team (technical direction) keeps changing.

    Williams has also emulated the BRM, Lotus (and Tyrrell) tradition of steadily bleeding driving talent – some of it coming in this case through sheer bloody-mindedness and inciting resentment in drivers. In the last 20 years, they’ve lost or discarded multiple world champions (Piquet, Mansell, Hill, JV). Then they lost or discarded multiple-race winners (DC, JPM, Ralf). Since then, they’ve had, at best, solid pros (Webber, Rubens) or young talent not yet at race-winning level (Rosberg, Maldonado) – some of whom they’ve lost through disillusionment or lack of financial wherewithal (Webber, Rosberg). I will be surprised if Maldonado stays very long. Notice the trend toward instability, if not a downward trend in quality.

    It looks like Mike Coughlan is walking back into Arrows, rather than the (formerly) championship winning Williams. I fear it’s too late for him to save the patient. Rather like Aubrey Woods unsuccessfully trying resuscitate BRM, Coughlan may turn out to be the doctor who simply turns off the light.

  31. CGM says:

    And yet, even though ….
    1. they’ve had many, many years of mediocrity
    2. newer teams are now out-performing them
    3. there are no signs of likely improvemement
    They still receive their yearly bonus from F1 for being one of the longterm teams ! Nice one.

  32. chris green says:

    Been following Williams since the ’70′s.
    I always thought tWilliams are a bit tough on drivers especially any driver who tried to improve his pay after winning a title.
    I think Frank and Patrick need to move aside and let the team develop into a race winner again. They are the 2 principals at Williams and they are responsible for what the team has become.
    What goes around comes around.
    I’m not impressed with Parr at all.
    Maldonado has been impressive and Reubens would still win races in the right car.

  33. Raymond says:

    Will you be publishing a team-by-team look at all of the teams similarly, James?

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