ANALYSIS – F1 2014 THE STORY SO FAR: Williams
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Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Apr 2014   |  8:35 pm GMT  |  90 comments

With the first four ‘flyaway’ grands prix out of the way, it’s a good time to assess the start each team has made to the season and look at how each team has fared so far with the new hybrid turbo technology.

And the subject of our third analysis piece is a team that set the pace in winter testing, but which hasn’t made the most of its pace and doesn’t have as many points on the board as most people expected at this stage…


Williams

Best result: P5 (Bottas, Australia)
Best grid slot: 3rd (Bottas, Bahrain)
Average grid slot: 9th.
Retirements: 1
Constructors Championship: 6th, 36 pts
Drivers’ Championship: Bottas 24 pts; Massa 12pts

Fastest race lap, gap to pace setter
Australia: +0.090s
Malaysia: +1.831s
Bahrain: +2.257s
China: +1.977

What’s gone right?
Bright new shiny paint scheme, reflecting new sponsorship from Martini, the iconic stripe running down the car makes it look fast! Other sponsors on the car hint at a team that is turning itself around. The winter testing showed that Williams has a good car, good reliability and a Mercedes power unit in the back, which is the benchmark unit at this point.

Williams were the second best team overall in pre-season testing (after Mercedes) so they will be very disappointed to be currently lying P6 in the constructors. But unforced mistakes have ultimately cost them precious points.

Bottas was exciting to watch in Australia and could have been on the podium had he not made a mistake, hitting the wall when climbing through the field. His qualifying performance in Bahrain was strong too, with third on the grid.

The car package looks good, although they were clearly initially lacking downforce relative to the leaders, which was highlighted in the wet conditions. With a number of updates in China they appear to have improved the balance of the car in the wet and they qualified both cars in the top four rows of the grid in both Bahrain and China, so it’s all there for the taking.


What’s gone wrong?
Getting the points the car’s potential deserves. A haul of 36 points from four races, equals an average result of 8th for each car, or 9 points per race for the team, which is poor in comparison with Force India which has 54 points, using the same Mercedes power unit.

So why hasn’t it happened? Largely a series of errors; driver errors, operational errors and mishaps.

One moment to forget was the “Valterri is faster than you” radio call to Massa, asking him to let his team mate through in Malaysia, which the Brazilian was unimpressed by. Bottas felt he had the speed and the fresher tyres to challenge Button’s McLaren for 6th place, but Massa had track position.

Was it worth the risk of damaging Massa psychologically and potentially undermining his trust in the team at this early stage for the sake of an extra two points?

The team clearly felt he would understand the strategic side of their intentions and they had a heart to heart afterwards to talk through how they will deal with this kind of thing in future.


Strong points of the team and car
They made a good choice moving to Mercedes engines this year from Renault and have done a good job on integrating the power unit with their chassis and appear to have an efficient cooling package. It’s a simple car, but no less effective for that. Given that their exhaust blowing was probably not as effective as others in 2013 the banning of this highly beneficial aerodynamic feature impacted Williams less than other teams.

The new technical signings, led by Pat Symonds and with experienced operational figures like Rob Smedley will help bolster the team, but they need to cut out the unforced errors.

Weak points of the team and the car
High tyre degradation is one thing. The car showed a tendency to overuse its tyres in Malaysia and Bahrain, which cost them dearly.

The team made a strange mistake in Bahrain by not doing much running in free practice as they had so much data from testing at the circuit. But the conditions were different and they didn’t have enough homework come race evening. Bottas went from 3rd on the grid to 8th at the finish as tyre degradation nailed them.


In China Massa was rather lively off the start line and tagged Alonso. A strange mix up with his tyres being on the wrong side lost him any chance of a good result.

In other words a series of largely own goals have left Williams feeling rueful about what might have been.

Where do they go from here?
No need to panic..yet; the car is fast, the power unit is strong and there are plenty of races to go. The others will develop, but lead times for major changes on the power units are very long.

Williams need to start capitalising on their performance in the next few races as one would expect Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren to start to pull ahead. However McLaren are definitely struggling (they also have to integrate a completely new Honda power unit for 2015 and will have less and less input from Mereces engines so have a massive task on their hands this season as they are effectively developing two completely different cars).

Depending on how all that goes and how well Williams convert pace into points, the fight for Williams this year may be for fifth in the Constructors’ Championship with Force India, assuming McLaren can raise its game.


So far Bottas has scored double the points of Massa, which is slightly surprising, but we can only judge properly after half a season.

One final footnote: Williams as a group has been quietly restructuring its operation to concentrate more on the F1 racing side and remove non-core and non-profitable activity from its business portfolio, meaning that there is less potential distraction (ie other non-F1 related projects) for the design staff.

Overall Marks out of 10

Williams – 5/10

Felipe Massa – 5/10

Valterri Bottas – 6/10

How many marks out of ten do you give Williams so far? Leave us your comments on this post in the comments section below.

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90 Comments
  1. Gaz Boy says:

    Yeah, I’d go along with a 5 (or 6) for Williams so far.
    Having said that, the baseline of the car is good, and now the teams are back in Europe, silly operational errors can be ironed out with lots and lots of practice – I always get the impression the teams are extra tense for the fly away races, they seem to calm down a bit more from Spain onwards.
    Williams developmental progress? That’s an intriguing facet of this European season; with Pat Symonds and Rob Smedley guiding the Grove squad they at least have two people capable of providing clarity of thought and soundness of decision when it comes to technical upgrades.
    Not fantastic, but not bad – middling really so far, and the same goes for the drivers.
    Team and drivers can do better – but I suspect they will.

    1. jakobusvdl says:

      Williams and McLaren got off to a great start in Melbourne, they have both gone backwards since then.
      I don’t know why they have lost pace compared to Mercedes, but they have and that justifies the 5/10 rating for Williams – and lower for Mclaren. Hopefully Williams have the resources to develop the car (and team) performance now they are back in Europe. Happily this season both their drivers are capable and level headed, and we should’t see a good competitive car wasted by knuckleheaded driving like in2012.

  2. Phil Glass says:

    Great to see Williams in best shape since Hill and JV.
    But you have to wonder …
    Have they got the drivers they need?

    1. Ben says:

      For where they are now, yes they have got the drivers. Old very experienced guy and a young gun – for what they want, they don’t need anymore

      1. Phil Glass says:

        tbh, I feel sorry for young Bianchi buried away in Marussia while so many others were drafted into big drives this year.

        Massa may have been unlucky, but thinking you can just drive off the start line and not encounter other cars within your trajectory is pushing your luck. Bottas could have had a couple of podiums. Lost one to bad error, and another to team orders.

        I just wonder what Bianchi and Kobayachi could do with these Williams cars…..

      2. Phil Glass says:

        Or even Hulk, but he’s happy enough at F.I.

      3. Rossi says:

        Isn’t Bianchi tied up with Marrussia as part of their Ferrari engine deal?

    2. Rich B says:

      ‘best shape since Hill and JV.’ really? williams were second in the championship with 4 wins in 2003, a better position than they stand now

    3. Anil Parmar says:

      You’re forgetting how strong they were in 2003…could have easily taken both titles.

      But yes, the drivers…Bottas is the real deal imo but needs to be more consistent. Massa though…I just don’t think he’s good enough. He really struggles to overtake and I’ve lost count of the amount of laps he’s stuck in someone’s slipstream, using DRS, unable to get by.

      Let’s hope Williams can keep up on the development race front. It’d be great to see them fighting for bigger points.

    4. oli says:

      Have you forgotten 2003 ? That FW25 was damn fast.

      1. Phil Glass says:

        Absolutely right. How could I forget?
        Now if Montoya could be lured back from florida …..!

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Could Monty actually fit in a 2014 spec F1 car?
        And also, isn’t the weight limit critical this year?

    5. Best shape since Hill and Villeneuve?

      I recall 2001-2003 being seasons at the front. There’s still some way to go to challenge Mercedes for victories and poles.

    6. Andrew M says:

      They were in considerably better shape than now from 2001-2004.

  3. Roe says:

    Don’t really think the driver’s marks are fair James, Massa lost the opportunity to score points in Australia & China through no fault of his own

    1. AuraF1 says:

      Id agree here – Bottas may be a great in future but Massa’s been putting in some impressive feisty drives and his starts are still superhuman. He can hardly be blamed for getting wiped out in Melbourne or the tyre screw up which cost him a lot more points. Massa might never be a title contender again but if these scores are about their own potential then Massa is surely closer to a 7 or 8 – he’s looking much better than his faltering Ferrari years already and Bottas hasn’t exactly been ahead of him. Given everyone was talking Bottas up as a future star he should have crushed a ‘has been’ like Massa shouldn’t he? So I’d put Bottas as a 6 but Massa as an 8 – yes the team has squandered its potential but it did at least show up with a better car this year so it’s not like Lotus or even Ferrari who underperformed right out of the box.

      1. Rishi says:

        Fair point actually. I was always sceptical about the extent of the excitement regarding Williams’ pre-season performances, but I still thought Bottas would really shine this season and that Massa would really have his work cut out to beat him. Whilst Bottas has had his moments, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how Felipe has stacked up against him so far. I think in terms of marks out of 10 I’d put them closer together but with Massa ahead – maybe 7 playing 6.5.

    2. NickH says:

      Yeah Massa was really screwed in China, with the return to Europe hopefully Williams will iron out the little errors that have cost them so far

  4. ferggsa says:

    Not a Williams fan but glad to see them fighting back, although long term the big teams will probably out run them
    Massa seems motivated and must be enjoying passing Ferraris on the track
    Bottas has potential and if he doesn’t make more rookie mistakes will have a decent season and keep outscoring Felipe

  5. bmg says:

    The best asset in the team is Bottas, Im suprised Pat Symonds is still there.

    This is were they need to shake things up.

    Get some new blood into the technical department, give some young buck a go.

    Williams have always good at the identification of talent in the driving department.

    Not so in resent years in the techncal department.

    They have never been great Man Managers either.

  6. goferet says:

    Oh Williams are having a dreary season considering their good form in winter testing as they looked as Mercedes’ only challengers and by the looks of it, they are going through the same phase Mclaren went through in 2012 with operational errors and lots of bad luck.

    And just like Mclaren, these problems weren’t a one-off but rather a season long learning experience but hey, seeing were the team are coming from in 2013, any points on board are a blessings.

    Bottas’ performance in relation to Massa so far makes Williams decision to hire Massa that more perplexing for not only does Massa have lots of psychological baggage but is also always under the dark cloud of bad luck.

    Now, I think Williams should forget about battling Force India in the constructor’s and just focus of covering the P6 slot because Force India’s Hulkenberg might be as good as the two Williams pilots combined.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Good points.
      Do you think Mr Massa has already sullied his relationship with the Grove lads and lasses through his actions at Malaysia? A case of don’t bite the hand that feeds you?
      Whatever the moral implications of “that” radio message to Felipe in Malaysia, the fact remains its best for a driver to get the team on his side, not to get aggrieve his employers! I know Our Nige did have a slightly sparky relationship with Frank and Patrick (usually over finances), but Nigel’s relationship with Patrick over technical matters was excellent and he always got the job done in the car – which Frank and Patrick appreciated (not to mention 28 wins, 3 constructors titles and a WDC).
      Perhaps Felipe could learn this?

      1. goferet says:

        @ Gaz Boy

        No m8, I don’t think Massa has suilled his relationship with the team after Malaysia for these things are part of the competitive nature of the sport.

        Were I think Massa’s relationship with the team will break down is if Bottas keeps producing the goods.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Yes, that’s a very plausible scenario.
        I wonder if Frank secretly likes a bit of, ahem, “aggro” behind his two highest salaried employees? There’s plenty of history at Williams of team-mates wanting to thump each other over the years!

    2. AuraF1 says:

      You think Williams should have consulted a witch doctor to determine their drivers luck before hiring them?

      If not for being wiped out on the first corner in Melbourne and the tyre screw up Massa would be comfortably beating Bottas. He’s a faster starter and hasn’t binned it in a wall yet. Bottas clearly has a few years before we can judge whether he’s a great or just a fast driver who won’t ever bother the top slots consistently but Massa isn’t a slouch and psychologically I’d say he’s more fired up than under a cloud. He knows his career was basically rotting with his broken past few years at Ferrari – he knows he’s got a few more years to get back to the old Massa. I don’t think he’ll trouble the championship to be fair but I wouldn’t suggest that Bottas has gotten the better of him yet.

      1. goferet says:

        @ AuraF1

        Lol… No, not consult a witch doctor, Williams could have simply had a look at F1 archives to see that Massa isn’t blessed e.g. 2008.

      2. AuraF1 says:

        Interesting perhaps Mercedes should have consulted the tarot for Lewis in 2011 and 2012 and decided the Gods of Fortune had judged him harshly and not employed him? ;) you may have noticed I think luck is a silly concept…

    3. Tyemz says:

      So convenient for you to forget that Massa has failed to score points on two occasions so far this season through no fault of his, or that Massa has outqualified Bottas by 3-1 so far or that on the three occasions both drivers have finished this season, Massa leads 2-1, the 1 to Bottas coming from the bungled pit stop in China.

      1. super seven says:

        +1

        Massa may not be leading in points, but once the operational errors are taken into account, he’s beaten him soundly.

        I don’t believe in bad luck following a driver. That’s just a statistical anomaly. I’d score Felipe 8/10, Valteri 6/10, and Williams 4/10. The low score for the team a reflection of the fact that they’ve not maximized the points they should have had with that car design. The tyre error in China was not one that a professional formula one team should have made.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        You should judge a driver by his peaks, as well as his results.
        Bottas peaks have been higher than Felipe’s so far, so that is why he is ranking above Mr Massa.
        A good example of a drivers peaks, If I may use an example, is that during the 1978 F1 season, the two Ferrari drivers of Carlos Reutemann and Gilles Villeneuve won 5 races: Gilles won the last race in Canada, Carlos had won 4 during the season. Looking at that evidence, you would think Carlos had blown the little Canadian away (Carlos also scored 48 points to Gilles 17, and the Argentine outqualified Gilles 12-4). However, 1978 was dominated by the Lotus 79s of Andretti and Peterson, and at the Belgian GP harried Mario for all he was worth until a puncture, while at the ill-fated Italian GP that year Gilles actually led Mario until a few laps from the end when Andretti out-braked the Ferrari. Gilles on a couple of occasions had kept up on merit with the technically superior Lotus. At no point during the European season had Carlos done that, and from that Ferrari decided that Gilles peaks had been greater than Carlos, and offered the Canadian a new contract for 1979, where as Carlos left for Lotus.
        I hope that explains drivers peaks!

      3. Tyemz says:

        Driver peaks after four races in which one driver clearly suffered more than his fair share of bad luck in half of those? The example you gave of Reutemann and Villeneuve does not apply here because in their case, driver peaks were measured over a full season during which it is assumed that misfortunes suffered on either side of the garage tend to even out.
        To have clearer picture at this early stage in the season, remove interfering circumstances and you would end up with a negligible sample size such that you begin to wonder if your driver peak was due to a one-off or not.

      4. Gaz Boy says:

        RE Tyemz: Perhaps Felipe’s pit stop drama in China was karma for his intransigence in Malaysia???
        What’s that old F1 cliche….what goes around comes around?
        I personally don’t believe in bad luck in F1, just bad preparation……….it’s no coincidence that the best prepared team at the minute, the Mercs, are gobbling up by the wins……….

  7. Paul Kirk says:

    Being hit from behind by Guteres, or whoever it was , then by Alonso, then the wheel fowlup in the pits were no fault of Felipe’s! He’s just having a run of bad luck at this point in the season, I certainly hope his run improves from now on!
    PK.

    1. audifan says:

      don’t understand your comment about massa tagging alonso in china james …theres a bit of video somewhere which shows clearly that this was 100% alonso’s fault , just turned into massa

      1. Steve Zodiac says:

        Yep, Massa has been very good so far but has been hamstrung by the mistakes of others, hopefully it will all come good soon and with Bottas improving all the time Williams are in good shape.

      2. Patrick says:

        Yes, I thought that was a stunning piece of opportunistic driving from Massa. He saw the gap, covered a lot of ground to line himself up and went for it only to have Alonso move over on him once he was in the gap. He had nowhere to go from there with a car on each side of him. A racing incident and pure bad luck for Massa. And then to top it all, somebody who should have known better got the rear wheels mixed up. I hope Smedley takes care of that immediately. Judging by his performance so far, I think Massa is really fired up and I hope he has a good rest of the season.

    2. Alexander Supertramp says:

      It was Kobayashi. But you’re right, he’s been affected by bad luck, which has cost him. I feel he had the edge over Bottas in the past two races..

    3. VV says:

      “Fowlup”? Were chickens involved?

      1. Paul Kirk says:

        Har ha ha, no they were grown up chooks. (Fowl=adult, chicken=just hatched).
        Please excuse my Norfolk Island edumacation!
        PK.

  8. Andrew M says:

    5 is probably about right based on expectations from last year, but based on pre-season I don’t think there’s any doubt Williams have flattered to deceive yet again. Apart from Australia they haven’t shown anything more than midfield pace, and despite the knocking McLaren have taken they’re still behind them.

    “So far Bottas has scored double the points of Massa, which is slightly surprising, but we can only judge properly after half a season.”

    Not really…

  9. Pete says:

    According to Pirelli Barcelona and Suzuka put the most energy into the tyres, so we should find out if Williams have got on top of their tyre wear issues or if the cold track in China helped them out a bit in this regard. All of the smooth drivers who suffered in China with a cold track should be able to keep their tyres switched on in Barcelona, it is likely to shake up the running order a bit.

    It looked to me as if Fernando drifted into Felipe at the start of the China race and the pit crew need to improve process control to prevent mixing the tyres up. The car looks fast and they were unlucky on tyre strategy in Bahrain, after the safety car, because it brought the Force Indias back into it. They’ve been a bit unlucky so far. Felipe has done some cracking starts but they need to watch out that they don’t fall behind the other teams who have bigger development budgets.

    1. Hitesh says:

      Force India had 3rd and 4th to them clearly… it was williams who were benefitted by the safety car against force india but they lost to red buls in the safety car… get your stats right pls

      1. Pete says:

        yes you’re right, my mistake on Force Indias. I just remembered Perez overtaking Massa, but watching it back that was on lap 28, the safety car was on lap 41. Great race though. Thanks for correcting my memory error.

        Cheers

  10. David says:

    I think 5 for Massa is a bit unfair. 2 races were not his issue as Kobayashi took him out in Aust and Williams stuffed up his race in Chins. I would give him a 6 like Bottas.

  11. Pkara says:

    Massa has had superfast starts…but is showing a recklessness which may land him with a few points on his super licence.
    His eagerness to shed his driver no.2 status will be his undoing. Unless he realizes that he cannot just position his car into a space that doesn’t exist.
    Bottas shows a level headed attitude & is showing sparkle. He is the real deal (though he does constantly remind me of that actor from the USA cop series Southland) & will be in F1 for alot longer than the aging Massa.
    Williams need to show more performance to break free from the mid pack label they seem to be stuck with.
    Did they hire any ex-Mclaren pit stop crew from 2012?

    1. David Ryan says:

      I think it’s a bit rich to call Massa “reckless” when his 2 non-scores thus far were down to a brake failure on Kobayashi’s car and his team forgetting which side of the car his wheel should go on. The incident at the start with Alonso was, by most observers’ reckoning, Alonso’s fault as he moved across, but a racing incident nonetheless and one with limited consequence. Bottas is a very talented driver and will be a real asset for Williams, no question, but Massa is hardly the old duffer you are portraying him as. Had he finished where he was expected to in Australia and China, he would be ahead of Bottas by 11 points (based on an anticipated 3rd place in Melbourne and 6th place in Shanghai, which again is the consensus on what was achievable on those days). As James says, this is why we need to wait until mid season before drawing conclusions.

      1. Patrick says:

        I agree, Massa definitely hasn’t shown a reckless streak by any means.

  12. Random 79 says:

    “And the subject of our third analysis piece is a team that set the pace in winter testing, but which hasn’t made the most of its pace and doesn’t have as many points on the board as most people expected at this stage…”

    Sadly situation normal.

    The really sad part though is that the potential for Williams to get good results is there, they’ve just to go and get them.

    If you divide the WCC into three tiers (Caterham to Lotus, Williams to Red Bull, and then that other one) there’s not that big a gap so there a chance for Williams to end up at the top of their group – but the bottom line is they have to do better.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Agree, must try harder (or do better – kind of the same thing??)
      Having said that, with those straight talking blokes called Symonds and Smedley overseeing Williams European/Canada summer season development, then at least Frank and Claire have two wise heads to get the development programme on the right track (no pun intended).

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        PS Considering Daniel learnt to drive in the dry as a bone desert of Western AUS, he does drive remarkably well in wet conditions!
        Are there any wet weather skidpans in Perth?

  13. Samir says:

    “So far Bottas has scored double the points of Massa, which is slightly surprising, but we can only judge properly after half a season.”

    This is because Massa was taken out at the first corner in Australia and had a 1 minute pitstop in China. In Malaysia and Bahrain, Massa was narrowly ahead (on track at least, though not necessarily in pace).

    1. James Allen says:

      ..and that’s why we have to judge at half season….

      1. Ed says:

        Well why give Massa a lower rating then?

      2. Patrick says:

        Agreed. I would rate them both the same at the moment, probably a 7. The team though, I would only rate them a 4. They have done an excellent job of making their drivers look second rate.

  14. Guybrush Threepwood says:

    I’d rate Massa above Bottas. He is ahead in qualifying and if not for a Kamui Kamakaze and pit error Massa would be well and truly in front of Bottas who has made a few of his own errors – like in Melbourne.

    1. AdrianMorse says:

      I agree, and I must say I’m surprised by Felipe’s (relatively) good form. I still believe Bottas has a little more potential than Massa (in this stage of their respective careers, anyway), and I hope both of them start getting some good results soon.

      However, my real point is this: you fight like a dairy farmer ;-)

      1. Random 79 says:

        Lol – this is never going to get old :)

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Just like Mr E?

      3. Random 79 says:

        Maybe not Gaz – 9 out of 10 scientists agree that porridge causes aging ;)

      4. Gaz Boy says:

        I don’t know if its been noted on this forum, but have you noticed the Germans have staggered Mr E’s courtroom appearances so he can also do his F1 commitments?
        Hmm………why not get the trial over and done in a month rather than drag it out until September?????
        Pardon my ignorance, but I’m not that up on the ins and outs of the German justice system, so I don’t know how it works compared to the English common law systems used in UK, AUS, SA, CAN and NZ.

      5. Random 79 says:

        No idea, but it is a bit strange given that Germans have a reputation for being highly efficient.

    2. super seven says:

      To be fair to Kamui, his brakes were faulty off the start line, and he was pretty much a passenger as his car ploughed into the rear of Felipe’s Williams.

  15. German Samurai says:

    Someone like Massa or Button acts as a good litmus test for the strength of the driver in the other side of the garage.

    Based on his performances compared to Massa, Bottas simply isn’t a top tier driver.

    Williams should be having Force India like results. Their drivers have woefully under performed.

  16. David in Sydney says:

    Williams has been it’s own worst enemy for years… this year looks no different.

  17. Darth_patate says:

    I would like an article just on Massa’s start. What is he doing so well. This is one area where he seems among the very best.

    At Ferrari he was also very good, but was often way back after quali so it could have looked better than it was .

    but he is still doing it this year. Nico Rosberg should really get a close look at that if he wants to challenge Lewis

  18. Olli says:

    I expect Bottas to beat Massa over the course of the season with relative comfort, thb.

    The sense I’m getting is that Bottas isn’t even near his career’s current – nevermind ultimate – potential, whereas Massa is pushing fairly hard.

    By year’s end I suspect Massa will have scored about 70% of Bottas’ points tally. Next year, given the same lineup – the diffence will likely be bigger.

    Having had to drive the FW35 has hurt Bottas’ image, and now a few solid, but unspectacular races seem to justify that notion. Same goes for Bianchi to some extent. Both are no weaker, and possibly stronger, than Ricciardo.

    1. David in Sydney says:

      I think your reasoning that MAS is operating at his best but BOT is still a rookie is close to the mark but to say BOT and BIA are ahead of RIC is fanciful; we have no real way to judge that one with anything other than personal bias.

      I wasn’t expecting RIC to be any closer to VET (I rate highly) than WEB but I have been amazed by his composure and speed.

  19. chris green says:

    williams don’t seem to be able to get the correct wheel onto the correct axle and then make sure it stays there – pretty fundamental stuff.

    also pretty hopeless on the aero side. the car is not efficient and so the team can’t crank on more wing otherwise the drag kills the fuel consumption.

    if it wasn’t for the benz engine the team would be nowhere. it hurts me to say that.

    1. David in Sydney says:

      I was pretty appalling. Says a lot about how sloppy the team is run. I’d love to see an interview of Williams after the race; if it was all smiles for the camera (just like their MAS call to move over) then they are, quite frankly, hoping it works out but doing nothing about it…

  20. Chalmondleigh says:

    Hi James,

    Please can you put me straight on why the left/right mix up on Massa’s rear tyres in China mattered.
    Do they run at different pressures dependant on the circuit being clockwise/anti clockwise, slightly different properties, or what?
    Many thanks.
    Chum

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      The construction is not symetric inside the tyre. Each tyre has to go on a specific side. I think now its in the rules, right tyre must go on the right side and same on the left. In previous years teams discovered that the pirellis gave slight better performance if mounted otherwise, but since last year there is a rule to avoid that.

      1. Patrick says:

        Yes, the tyres are directional in their construction but I think what really messed things up for them is that one side of the car axles has a left hand thread and the other side has a right hand thread. The wheel nuts are mounted into the wheels so if you get them the wrong way around, they simply will not fit.

      2. David in Sydney says:

        Which race was it last year that teams were swapping tyres from left to right resulting in exploding tyres?

      3. rad_g says:

        Silverstone.

  21. Ben says:

    Compared to last year, this year Williams has gone very well but they have definitely not fulfilled the full potential from the car. They just need a couple of weekend’s where they get everything right and podiums are definitely within their reach. Now that the European season is about to start the development race is on and lotus (last year) and force India (this year) have shown that it is possible to compete at the front on a much smaller budget. With the right belief and well targeted developments 4th or higher is possible. I think it is time to give the sports psychologist who has done such a great job with Liverpool football team a call. They have everything in place to do well but they just need the belief in themselves and to stop making mistakes. I believe it but do they??

  22. Bryan says:

    Peter Windsor was at Bahrain for testing, and he observed the Williams was geared much shorter than the Force India: Williams were at 7th gear on the straight whereas Force India rarely went above fifth.

    Could this be the source of their tyre troubles: too much torque when accelerating leading to wheel spin? It might also explain some of their problems in the wet.

    1. David in Sydney says:

      I think we forget that ratios are fixed all season – meaning teams like Ferrari who gear for Monza (doh) don’t look as good on twisty circuits.

      Perhaps Williams are gunning for a Monaco and Silverstone (what with the new twisty bits) win?

      Come to think of it fixed ratios all season is just as articial a device as DRS and spec tyres (which I also hate).

      1. VV says:

        They are allowed one gear ratio change this season.

    2. Paige says:

      Actually, Williams was already in EIGHTH gear on that straight. So they are even more incredibly short. This, IMO, was a massive mistake. It’s clearly behind the tire trouble at a place like Bahrain, but it’s also a very possible source of the team’s struggles in the wet, as they are laying down the power way too aggressively in the low gears. Having said that, I would really watch out for them at a track like Monaco, where getting the car to rotate and burst quickly out of tight corners is the name of the game.

      I think we all got quite excited during winter testing when Williams was looking clearly very strong. I don’t think their performance at that point was fake, but clearly Mercedes had a hell of a lot more pace in their pocket than they showed in testing. Also, I think it’s pretty clear that Red Bull has had a very quick car all along, but they needed to sort out their reliability, and with their resources, I am prepared to believe that they were able to leapfrog everyone into second place by Malaysia. So I wouldn’t say that, given all the factors, Williams has been completely disappointing this year.

  23. Yago says:

    I don’t see why Massa’s mark is lower than Bottas’s. Neither why Williams mark is lower than Mclaren’s. Still totally in desagreement with these marks… How the hell Mclaren was given a 6/10, totally nonsense. Too much credit to Mclaren’s podium finish in Australia.

  24. Brace says:

    James, ratings are quite unbalanced. You gave Alonso 7/10 for driving faultlessly and taking a maximum from every weekend, while you gave Bottas 6/10 for hitting the wall completely unnecessary, costing them potential podium, being outqualified by Massa 2 out of 4 times and being outraced by Massa on few occassions too.

    1. Ed says:

      Actually Massa is 3-1 in qualifying.

      Also, Bottas lost costly time at Bahrain when he went off at Turn 1, so it’s certainly been a patchy season for him so far.

  25. KenC says:

    “Was it worth the risk of damaging Massa psychologically and potentially undermining his trust in the team at this early stage for the sake of an extra two points?”

    For such an experienced driver, he’s rather fragile mentally, if that’s the case.

    Bahrain was a self-inflicted wound if they’d only practiced more, they might have avoided the 3-stop strategy which is what scuppered their results.

  26. Torchwood Five says:

    James, have you looked at multiple camera angles of the Massa-Alonso start line incident in China?

    I have, and frankly, it is only Alonso’s own car-cam that supports him being hit by Massa.

    Others, including two cameras independent of either car, show Fernando hitting Massa.

  27. Ryan Eckford says:

    Williams are an interesting case. I think the car is quick, more so in the dry, than in the wet, and I believe the drivers are quick. However, they have not been able to put it together across a weekend.

    The drivers have been good, but they have had their problems. Bottas should have had a podium in Australia if he didn’t hit the wall and damaged the tyre, but has been solid in the other races without being a shining light. Massa was taken out in Turn 1 in Australia, and his race in China was destroyed by a shocking pit-stop. Other than that, he hasn’t done much wrong.

    Overall, Williams have potential, but need to execute better to achieve really good results.

  28. Mike84 says:

    Unfortunately they are a mid-field team and we and they might as well get used to that because how it is going to change unless they win a few lotteries?

  29. Mark says:

    During winter testing there was an interview with Pat where he hinted that their driver line up fits in with their current objectives.

    Interesting that he thinks they’re high level but not top shelf, a bit like when they had Patrese and Boutsen in 89 and 90.

    Sounds like they still need a top line driver to help motivate the team, direct the development of the car and eek every bit of performance out of it, maybe a job for someone like Alonso!

  30. Paige says:

    Big fan of Bottas here. He’s got very strong talent and is both quick and efficient in his driving style. He also has some maturing to do, but we are just four races into the season.

  31. Shri says:

    Not reached perceived potential. Limited resources may keen them mid field at end of season.
    Team order saga was an episode to forget

  32. Don Tetley says:

    While it is very interesting to read the remarks made on this subject and I congratulate the organises of this forum I find that nobody has hit on the actual reasoning behind performance being not what was expected. It is a simple answer and that is as follows—–
    2014 is the year that is Mercedes turn to win and the organiser is waiting trial in Europe for a similar action. Red Bull, in the eyes of the money organisers had to be stopped and so far it looks like the action will be successful. Obviously Vettel knows this and doesn’t like it and I wonder what will happen there as in Vettel’s rather large 4 year contract there was a clause that said Red Bull had to supply a car that was capable of winning the championship or he could leave. Where would he go? At the moment he would slot in very nicely at Williams, that is providing they can pay the asking price which I think is 16 million U.S. Dollars. Of course that is if that clause is still in his contract and if another team is prepared to pay it. Or, does Vettel know all this and is sitting tight when this year is over. Red Bull may wear this for one year but not two and the money from the European billionaire that backs them will also be available again next year but even he must follow the rules. That is just Formula One and I doubt Anyone will agree with me on this but it has happened time and time again.

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