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Frank Williams: 2012 is a fresh start for my team
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Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Feb 2012   |  12:26 pm GMT  |  31 comments

Frank Williams declared 2012 as a “truly fresh start” for his team as it launched the new FW34 on the morning of the first day of testing at Jerez.

The multiple former champions endured what can only be described as an annus horribilis last year as it slumped to the worst constructors’ championship finish in its rich championship-laden history, ninth, after scoring five points all year.

But the new season already has a renaissance feel about it with the team reuniting with its former engine supplier Renault – who it won its last world championship with back in 1997, at the end of a near decade of dominance – and implementing a wide-reaching technical restructure, with the department now headed by Mike Coughlan and chief operations engineer Mark Gillan following the departure of Sam Michael to McLaren and co-founder Patrick Head’s decision to step down from the F1 side of the business.

Bruno Senna has also joined in place of countryman Rubens Barrichello to partner Pastor Maldonado, while despite continued difficult corporate market conditions, Williams has also confirmed the arrival of several well-known sponsors including Gillette and Head & Shoulders, along with Senna’s personal backer Embratel.

“One could say that looking at the Williams F1 Team today we are off to a truly fresh start,” Frank Williams said.

“We have a new car, new driver line up, new engine and new senior personnel. We also have a number of new partners who have joined the team in the past few months. I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome them formally and sincerely wish that they have an enjoyable and, most importantly, a valuable experience with us. The team has had a good winter at the factory and we feel ready and strong for the fight.”

Williams says the FW34, perhaps unsurprisingly given the performance of last year’s package, features “fewer than five per cent of the parts” on its predecessor, with the car’s nose featuring the now standard stepped design to comply with the revised regulations in this area.

Gillan, the team’s new chief operations engineer, said: “We are really looking forward to this season and from a personal perspective I can’t wait to get the FW34 on to the race track. In the run-up to Australia, we will be working hard with our exciting new driver line-up to ensure that we maximise and unlock the full potential of the FW34. It is imperative that we demonstrate a continuous improvement in our performance and deliver results throughout the season.”

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31 Comments
  1. Stuart Moore says:

    I don’t think it will happen this year, but… I’d love to see Williams back at the front.

  2. I’d love to see Williams do much better this year, what do you think their chances are, James?

  3. Andy says:

    I love Williams, but why do they continue to have such boring liveries. Horribly corporate.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      I think dark blue has always been the official colour of the Williams team, they’ve just had the sponsors to match over the last 10 years or so.

    2. Phil C says:

      I get the feeling that, just like last year, and the years before, the Williams blue is just a testing livery, and we are yet to see the actual colour scheme the team will run in 2012

  4. Kevin Green says:

    Fresh start?? Another step back i fear!. time to sell up Franky sure some of the manufacturers must be considering coming back in if not now maybe in the near future.

    Anyone else noticed KIA/Hyundai seem to be getting everything right these days??

  5. CarlH says:

    Sad to say, but I don’t see them fairing any better than last year. Caterham will be hot on their heels and Maldonado just doesn’t seem to have what it takes to drag them forward.

    The jury is out on Bruno but if it was a choice between him and Kovalainen I know who I’d take.

  6. Simon says:

    James, with respect to the new rule on the height of the nose, do you think the FIA have slipped up and did not foresee that the majority of the cars would look so hideous? Or was it expected?
    I can’t help but think there are questions being asked …

    1. James Allen says:

      It was pretty clear this would happen. You could argue that the whole chassis maybe could be lowered to improve the looks. But we’ll get used to it soon enough.

      1. Nigel says:

        James. Great site. I’ll way in for the first time with regard to the aesthetics of these noses.
        I dont think that is the real problem. I think a very dangerous situation has been created by what looks like a very badly written rule.
        Firstly, the nose structure is designed to meet an FIA crash test. It has to disapate that huge energy by only using the crush length of the nose box to do so and as a result is one strong piece of Carbon structure.
        When I look at this years cars I see these “Blade Like” formations as only increasing the risk of puncturing the side of another chassis in high speed impact. Local forces increase when the same energy is subjected over a smaller area.
        It would appear to me that a simple “min radii” at first point of contact should have been considered along with a max height of that point.

      2. Kevin Green says:

        I would imagine the side pods and associated parts in that area would be either thicker or multi layered to Combat this possibility or both. I would imagine that’s basic common sense regulation into the ruling of the Tub construction/design. Anyone out there in the know?????

  7. Cory says:

    I’ve been following Williams ever since I started watching F1 in the mid-90s. Through thick and thin they have pulled through since. They had a lull in performance at the end of ’99 and beginning of ’00. Yes their recent performance has been a lot worse than back then, but they’re a survivor team and I hope to see them regularly in the points this year.

    Maldonado, although not the best driver out there, brings money with him which is what Williams need at the moment with a lack of sponsorship in their favour. Senna on the other had is yet to be proven.

    I really hope Williams can get their come back on the move this year and hopefully be at the front again in a couple more…

  8. Thompson says:

    Honestlty, I think Frank deserves every last drop of suffering he’s getting in F1 these days. After the way he treated Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill after they won championships for him, he deserves no pity.

    1. RichardB says:

      if you believe that you’ve been seriously miss informed as to why they left williams.

    2. Peter Scandlyn says:

      Thank you. Must be just the two of us without not suffering from the dreaded oldtimers.

    3. VV says:

      Nigel had a hissy fit because he couldn’t stand having Prost join the team, went to America for a year in a strop (and then came back for a couple of races in ’94 anyway). Pure drama queen.

      Damon’s contract wasn’t renewed. Frentzen was signed up before Damon’s championship year, when Damon was crashing into Schumacher on a regular basis and not performing well at all.

    4. L says:

      Maybe Mansell and Hill should not have asked double the money Williams could afford?

      How did their careers go after that absurd money they asked?

      How anyone can wish another person who did nothing to them, wishing them to suffer bad, is just wrong and frankly, evil.

      1. Thompson says:

        I’m not wishing Frank any ill personally, just that the way he treated his drivers when he was on top, stank a little.

        Mansell proved himself, coming close to the WDC & on the way providing some iconic moments in the Williams which would have pleased any sponsor. Pay him, that would have been fair, bring in a rookie why bring in another champion you’d have to pay.

        Hills ( the most underrated driver of all time – almost won a race in an Arrows!…dragged Jordan from the back of the field to a top 5 team!) treatment was disgraceful, the man was robbed of a championship, but was a contender all season, and you sign an unknown mid season to replace him without justification. (Maybe you had to be following f1 at the time….lol.)

        Franks Mantra then was it was the car, well o.k.

        Its karma he lost Newey over it and everything else.

      2. Chris says:

        Damon was my hero, but he is not most underrated driver of all time. He had a lot to thenk Williams for, as Williams had a lot to thank Damon for. That is where the matter should be left.

    5. Paul Kirk says:

      Not to mention the treatment of Rubens!
      PK.

      1. Thompson says:

        Chris, imo he was. The only thing that held him back was his fathers name. Seriously, can you imagine a Virgin, HRT or “Lotus” on their budget even getting close to the front of the field in a dry race on their budgets…those are todays equivalent of an Arrows.

        Consider all the drivers Eddie Jordan went through with no success, Eddie’s mistake was bringing Frentzen into that team when he did.

        Even when you look at his stats over a relatively short career, albeit most of it in a WDC capable winning car (but compare it to Coultards).

        I’m staggered that the likes of HRT, Virgin F.India etc. never signed him with regards setting up their cars.

        Who would you name as the most underrated?

  9. EVILHOMER40 says:

    Frank Williams treatment of drivers was no different to the way that top drivers have treated teams over the years.

    Drivers who came to his team had left less competitive teams without a second thought for their owners so that they could almost guarantee themselves a drivers championship! In other words they had looked after their own interests by seeking a better oportunity which is exactly what Frank Williams did. In his view he was building the best car in F1 at that time so he only wanted the best drivers in F1 in his car.

    I write this as a lifelong fan of Nigel Mansell so i like to think i’m being subjective.

    On a personal note i have the utmost respect for Frank Williams and find him inspirational.

    1. Thompson says:

      At the time it almost seemed, vindictive & only british drivers were treated this way and in a british team. At the time it was just wrong. History may have soften the edges so to speak but it was wrong….(F1 is such a soap opera)

  10. Paul J says:

    I was really hoping for a bit more of an interesting livery from Williams. This year kind of has a ‘fresh start’ feel to it, so I wanted to see a livery that reflected that. Maybe this will change before the first race.

  11. Andrew Carter says:

    Seems like a tidy car but so did last years. Lets not forget that this team finished 2010 with the 5th fastest car and since blown diffusers are gone, their major area of deficit has gone as well.

  12. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    Its hard to see with all the changes in the past year how they will be able to come up with a top level car. Teams thrive under stability and clear direction. Not constant changes.

  13. Ace says:

    I hope Williams can be competative this year and that Bruno Senna can achieve podium finishes that show that he is an accomplished driver.

    It will be great to see the yellow helmet with the blue and green stripes in a front running car.

    Williams has all the ingrediants and the knowledge to get back on top so hopefully this new car can give them a fighting chance.

    It will be interesting to see if Williams are still running the Senna logo on the front wing in respect to Ayrton Senna. In my opinion it should never be removed.

    Can’t wait for the season to get going.

    1. CarlH says:

      They are still running the Senna logo, as they should.

  14. Steven says:

    Is the money from Bruno comparable to the money from Pastor? Does this mean.Williams now jag the money to compete better?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, Venezuelan money is more.

  15. Rich C says:

    Sadly, Sir Frank is dreaming in technicolor.

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