F1 Winter Break
Williams-Renault back in business
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Jul 2011   |  6:56 pm GMT  |  92 comments

It was good to see today that Williams has joined forces with Renault again, recreating a partnership which dominated F1 racing in the 1990s. Together they won four Drivers’ and five Constructors’ world titles and 63 race victories.

The circumstances are rather different this time, in that Williams joins a list of customers including Red Bull Racing, Lotus Renault GP and Team Lotus. Back in the 1990s it was for a the works team, with Ligier and then Benetton coming along in 1995 to also get the engine.

The deal is for 2012 and 2013 for the current V8 engines, which won last year’s world championship with Red Bull. But as Williams’ chairman Adam Parr points out, “We are already working on an extension for the new engine formula which arrives in 2014.”

This is backed up by Renault Sport chairman Bernard Rey’s view that they enter the partnership,

“With a view to continuing after the introduction of the new, energy efficient, turbocharged V6 engines in 2014.”

The deal will make Renault the largest supplier of engines in F1, ahead of Cosworth, Ferrari and Mercedes. It means that Cosworth goes down to just two teams for next year; Virgin and HRT. And with the announcement of their technical partnership with McLaren that may well see Virgin becoming another Mercedes customer.

Parr notes in his comments that the reason for the split with Cosworth was, “We had an understanding with Cosworth that continuing beyond this year was dependent on the longer-term prospects with the new engine. So, this was foreseen.”

In other words this is as much about positioning and technical stability at the point where the new breed of F1 engines comes in for the 2014 season, as it is about the next two years.

This deal has been in the offing for some time and really accelerated in recent weeks when the picture became clearer about what direction F1 engines were taking in the future.

It’s interesting that these strategic plays are coming in now.

And as far as Williams are concerned, with a new technical team and a new engine partnership, they cannot be accused of sitting idle.

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Before we get all romantic about the days gone by, and memories of Williams glory days - let us remember that engines aren't as important as they used to be. Red Bull would probably win with most of the other engines on the grid. Look at Brawn, winning with a last minute engine deal.

Williams pulled me into the sport as the powerhouse in the 90s, so I quietly hope for best. They have hardly given me any reason to cheer since BMW parted ways. I don't think we'll see them at the sharp end until new ownership with deep pockets arrives.

I say this - I actually saw a Williams win - in person! 2001 Canadian Grand Prix, Ralf making it happen. So so long ago.


I was lucky enough to watch the Silverstone GP when Villenueve won in 97. Fantastic race.


Wow! I would have loved to have seen Jacques win.

I absolutely saw every raceaim TV in the 1996 and 1997 season rooting for Williams. Hill, Jacques, HHF. It was a wonderful time. I was dreaming of going to Monaco, Silverstone, Spa, Suzuka.

I was at Silverstone in 2001 finally! Mika won, made a joke about why he was so fast on the day. Apparently he wanted to finish the race quickly to have tea while waiting for others to be done. Mika is a character I really miss.

British GP is always one I look forward to.


Wow, my nostalgia gland just went into overdrive. The FW14 is the most beautiful F1 car of all time for me (yes even prettier than THE McLaren). Nothing wrong with nostalgia just as long as we do not suddenly expect them to win races becauise of it! Although I would dearly love to see that again while Frank is still a part of the sport.


Out of interest what is THE Mclaren? My favorite F1 car of all time is the 2005 Mclaren


Ayrton Senna = Best driver to ever sit I'n an F1 car.

His 1990 & 1991 Mclaren was the best EVER f1 car, well he made is the best.... A true God !!!


I'd also like to nominate the BMW Sauber F1.08 as the most UGLY ever F1 car. This thing was developed during 2008 when the sport went insane with winglets ontop of winglets!



MP4/4 or MP4/6


MP4/4 or MP4/6 (We're talking looks here not speed)


MP4-20 unreliable as hell but phenominally quick


FW17 and 18 were, often forgotten, beauties too. Such wonderfully pure, clean racing cars. Hill Vs Schumi - wonderful racing without wing gimmicks, power buttons or drivers being penalised every time they nudged another car or went for the overtake.

The might of the Williams car, Hills plucki-ness and dedication against the sheer singlemindedness and excellence of Schumacher. What a rivalry! Never was there a more 'British' sportsman than Damon.


Are you sure that it was a one-off aggregate situation?

Off-hand Mexico 1987 springs to mind.


it still managed to be absolutely thrilling with Murray screaming down the microphone

>> Wayne, Murray is yet another topic of "Nostalgia" and could scream down the microphone over absolutely, nothing. People after him tried to mask their similar lack of aptitude with similar attitude and were castigated by all and sundry....

Bellowing of one recent commentator comes to mind, who had lesser number of gaffes as compared to Walker but then was culled out mid way through his contract.


The lack of steward intervention certainly wasn't welcome when Schumacher took out Hill.


Japan 1994 anyone? Hill and Schumi were not even on the same piece of track at the same time to due one-off aggregate situation and it still managed to be absolutely thrilling with Murray screaming down the microphone as the aggregate gap closed and closed.......

No DRS or silly Comedy Tyres and still amazing racing, suspense, drama and thills by the dozen! Oh and drivers were not constantly beaten by the stewards every time they tried to overtake someone and made a mistake as well. Brilliant!


What engines are HRT using next year?


They are using Lawn Mower engines. I gleaned this by considering the next atricle down about HRT and the picture that accompanies it.


Great to see the partnership again. A new possibility for drivers too, new management and new engine is a great combo.

HRT and Virgin will be using Cosworth next year correct? So 2 teams?

Also, what are the prospects for a sale of all current Cosworth technology to HRT.


This is very exciting news for someone who grew up watching Williams dominate the sport.

Whilst I'm a little saddened that cosworth won't have the chance to prove what a good engine it is (the aero is main issue I believe), it's a race winning engine Williams have signed up for here.

It looks like both mvr and hrt are upping their efforts of late.

Williams could be one to watch next year.


The Williams Renault combination brings back memories for me too. But their domination was so overwhelming in '92 in particular, that I was always hoping for them to lose to be quite honest!

I actually doubt it's possible to have that level of domination thesedays - they were sometimes 2 SECONDS clear of the next fastest team!


Definitely not nowadays since everything has been homogenised and sanitised. The Ferrari in 2002 and 2004 was also painfully dominant.


Indeed, but in those days there were "real" innovations in F1 like abs, active suspension and fully auto capable gearboxes.

Keith Collantine (F1fanatic) did some great pieces from goodwood last weekend on some of the best tech cars F1 has ever produced. Worth a read.


Its going to take a lot more than a Renault engine to return Williams to the podium. They are in ninth place as of today!

A major sponsor, a new driver, a new designer, maybe even a new owner...

I'd love to see it though!


Well they do have a new design team in fact led by Mike Coughlan who lead the designs on the super quick Mclaren of 2007, much of which carried over to 2008.

I predict solid mid field performance for team Willy next year and then possibly knocking on the door of the upper midfield towards then end of the season. Maybe even a lucky podium.

They do need a new driver though as I don't think Rubens has the mindset to mount a consistent championship challenge.

The new engine could be more valuable than you think. I bet a Renault unit is worth a second a lap compared with the Cosworth. It's not all about Horsepower. We have to consider Traction, driveability, torque characteristics, fuel economy, power spread. It all adds up to a considerable advantage.


Further to this, something people seem to have forgotten is that Stepney had sent the dossier to Coughlan as they were hatching a plan to defect to Honda together. Another reason why none of the data was found at Woking.


Nonesense!! You sound like a typical Ferrari partisan.

As a result of the spygate episode, the FIA investigated the Mclaren factory fully (servers and all) and stripped the Mclaren cars down to examine every last nut and bolt to ascertain how much, if any Ferrari derived technology was on the cars. They weren't just looking for a Ferrari sticker on a wishbone, they were analysing concepts and how they'd evolved. The result of the investigation was that there was no evidence of any foul play on the part of the team.

We must remember that the Ferrari dossier was found in Mike Coughlan's private possession in 2007, well in his wife's if you really want to be picky. The 2007 Mclaren was designed in 2006 so they'd have to have had a time machine to put 2007 Ferrari technology on it. Reworking a complete design just to glue some Ferrari bits on would be pointless, it wouldn't work. This is why Mclaren were never charged with theft of Ferrari I.P, because it never happened.

However, because Bernie and Max were determined to give Ron Dennis a kicking, they decided to charge Mclaren with bringing the sport into disrepute as teams are deemed to be responsible for the actions of their team members (even in their private lives it seems). Bernie even admits this in is Biography. As such, Ferrari should have been equally charged as the whole affair was instigated by Nigel Stepney, a Ferrari employee at the time but Bernie and Max have a history of bias towards the dirty reds.

Mclaren don't need to copy Ferrari. The only thing that keeps Ferrari ahead in the statistics is the fact they've been in F1 for so long. Mclaren have won 1 in every 4 races they have ever competed in. They do just fine on their own thank you very much!!

Also, I doubt it would do Mike Coughlan much good to enter a 2007 Ferrari into next years championship so I don't think you need to worry about that either.


'Well they do have a new design team in fact led by Mike Coughlan who lead the designs on the super quick Mclaren of 2007, much of which carried over to 2008.'

And much of which carried over from the 2007 Ferrari.


Indeed, thats what I'm saying. I dont think the engine is the weak point of the current package.

They are making a concerted effort to bolster the tech side of the business. Interesting that they're going to renault for long term, as Renault have a great history in turbo engines.

Sounds very much like there may be tech transfer of Kers type work from Williams to road cars also.


I didn't expect this at all, but it's great news!

What does this mean for Cosworth? They said they needed at least three teams to return to F1, now they are down to one. I don't see them staying around for a very long time ...


2. MVR and HRT


Excellent news. I really wish them luck. Be great if this, plus the other changes, helps put my fav team in with a chance of a win in the near future


Good for them! As much as I was excited by Cosworth coming back into the fray, the teams they supply have not been lighting up the timings at any point. Sorry Cosworth, it was good while it lastest, but I feel the days are numbered again. 🙁


This gives Renault a really strong footing within F1. Do you think that this will mean that they will be content to become just an engine supplier and therefore withdraw from being a constructor?

Also I thought that McLaren's agreement to be supplied by Mercedes was to come to an end at some stage. Is that still the case? In light of the new developments I can see Mercedes wanting to supply as many teams as possible and not lose McLaren.


They withdrew as a chassis manufacturer already. They are now solely an engine supplier


Renault has already done so in all but name, they sold the works team to Genii capital and Genii tied up with Group Lotus. The only reason it's still called Renault is so they don't lose the money under the Concorde agreement.


I understand that is the plan for Renault, they currently only hold 25% of the team, having sold the rest to Genii Capital, it was planned that Group Lotus would take over the final 25% and rebrand the chassis ... but all teams have to agree to that, and something tells me Team Lotus might not (serves them right)


I think they've already unloaded the 25% to Genii. Group Lotus have an option to take the equity in 2012


Yep, Renault hold no equity in the team leaving them to more closely ally themselves with whichever renault engined team is doing best at the time for publicity purposes.


So Renault are already just a constructor in name, after years of small teams being forced out by Manufactors throwing money at the sport its amazing that there are only 2 now (Group Lotus being a sponser and McLaren being the other way round)


Very happy for Williams. Hopefully, come next year, we'll see Williams fighting for podiums, not just points. Let's hope the changes to the technical team improve the aero on the car.


Bear in mind Renault are no longer in F1, only the engine supplier,whatch their engine performance from this weekend on. it will not suprise if Cosworth cames on top.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Williams should chase DHL to sponsor the space on the top of the engine cover

......would bring back the look of the glory days!


What remains to be seen is if other engine suppliers will join the fray when F1 changes over to the turbocharged V6 engines in 2014.


What great news!

Should they keep Rubens in the team next year? I hope they do


Who's supplying HRT next year? It's not Cosworth?

Any word on how much Williams has to pay for the engines?


Williams are truly one of the best teams in F1 history, only behind Ferrari and level with Mclaren, no doubt the combo of Williams Renault is making lots of F1 fans smile! The name has a ring to it that just works!

It's worth noting that Renault owe a lot more to Williams than the other way around! Now, get me some Mclaren Hondas on the grid, Bruno Senna in that gold and black lotus, and with those turbos around the corner, F1 has gone full circle (no pun intended)! I have a hunch there's a golden F1 period coming up.

James, quick one, can you see Williams changing their driver line up, they've changed everything else? Hope theybdo, Rubens to stay, but he needs a challenging team mate.


Doubt they'll change Pastor, he brings the Venezuelan oil money. Would take a change of president to change that situation.


I think Ruben's and Trulli are currently competing in their last seasons...


Oops, hang on what was that on BBC news today?!? Power vacuum in Venezuela you say, surely not!


Off topic but STOP PRESS!!!

I've just seen Fernando Alonso in a Fiat advert but it's dubbed!! (Clearly is of Italian origin.) But it's so shockingly bad it's hilarious!!! Certainly isn't on a par with some of McLaren's virals. Sorry, had to comment.

Good move by Williams though. I started watching in the Williams Renault era with Damon Hill so - though that has no effect on their performance - the evocation is nice!


I saw the advert while in Italy a little while ago, somehow made more sense there in a foreign language!!


a lot of positives coming from the williams camp & its good this time around taking on known factors instead of the unknown.

i'm a little bit shocked at the negatives on pastor, he's doing alright for a rookie & he did good at monaco where the car plays a lesser part.

as much as we like ruben's, i'm starting to think its time for him to retire & give someone else a chance. he's had world championship winning cars & didn't match up, using shumi as an excuse only goes so far, he had the brawn & didn't make it happen.

williams needs a fresh fighter, but to the few who meet the level; di-resta or either sauber driver won't be willing to move on current results.

i read somewhere about kimi buying into a team, maybe williams should put some shares his way to get him long term. while he's young enough.

Fernando Piccione

Hey James,

I´m a Brazilian fan which wants to see the Williams team back were it belongs , ON the Top.

With that sad, what do you think about Rubens situation on the team ?

I mean , Í dont see any other driver avaliable on the Market with his skills, expirience but, do you think he has waht it gets to lead Williams back to the TOP ?



Yes, he does. But it will take a few years and I don't think Rubens will have many more years in F1.


I bet Frank and Patrick are forever regretting the decision not to give Adrian Newey equity in the team...


+1 LOL!

Though I also imagine Adrian would feel pain if he's @ Williams due to Senna's death in one of his cars.


He stayed at Williams for a few years after 1994, winning two drivers' titles and three constructors' titles with the team. While the Senna connection would likely be in the back of his mind, I doubt it would hinder his capacity as he did quite well after Senna's death.


This will be a welcomed move for the fans, no doubt.

James, just wondering, is this purely Williams changing customer engines or is there something more to it?

I think Adam Parr implied there was more to it and since Renault no longer owned the now called LRGP team.

Is there a chance that Williams could become the factory backed team with a view of doing more business in South America (despite their current strong presence there)?


I can't see Renault wanting to come back as a manufacturer in the near future. They are onto a good thing with LRGP obliged to be called Renault at least until the end of 2012, so Renault get brand awareness in F1 through that as well as through engine supply. There were suggestions that there was more to it on the commercial side. Maybe some technology transfer etc. It's an iconic brand Williams-Renault and it looks like both parties have realised that and want to build on it for the future


I always thought we might see Jenson back at Williams for one last hurrah before he retires so maybe he'll head to Grove in a couple of years when his Macca days are over just as Williams find form again. I think Button and Williams will always be a story of unfinished business if we never see him back there again.

That would be nice!


Hoping to see Williams get to a Podium competitive form. Maybe even a win, next season. But I think a driver change is neccessary, a real top form racer is required. RB a good 2nd driver but you need a guy who can find the extra 4 tenths that are hiding somewhere.


Williams Renault - nostalgia.

Hope they'll bring a new turnaround in 2012.

Would love to see them upfront again.


James, why is it that teams do not make their own engines? (Like Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz or old Renault days before they sold their team to Genii).

Even McLaren at the moment while making their own road cars don't seem to build their own engines even though they are badged as McLaren. As far as I know the engines of MP4-12Cs are made in partnership with some company and are built by them. And a while ago, Martin Witmarsh said the F1 operation won't be looking into making their own engines post-2014 or 2015, when their Mercedes deal expires.

Are engines really really expensive to make? Or they are just too difficult for teams to manufacture? It would be a whole lot easier for teams to design, manufacture and manage their own engines rather than rely on someone else which can cause unstability sometimes. Like for instance, some engine supplier pulls out, others not willing to make/supply them, etc. What IF at one point the entire grid is dependent on one single engine supplier when no other company are willing to make them?


Merc bought a British company that made engines and after many years supplying engines, they then moved into full team ownership. Same as BMW, same as Renault previously. But these are road car manufacturers buying exiting teams. For an F1 team to suddenly decide to produce their own engines would require massive investment and significant increase in personnel for little gain. An engine manufacturer means you can get the expertise you need for less cost, may allow a substantial increase in revenue and exposure from advertising and benefits both companies. Engine makers and teams work very closely and in the netcentric age information sharing is cheap and fast. I doubt whether having 100% ownership of the engine design and production would show noticable gains.


McLarens MP4/12C engine is built by Ricardo Engineering,Sussex.


Cost is the main thing, yes. It's a decision that needs to be made a long way ahead, as it was with BMW or Mercedes when they came back to F1. Plus you need a lot of expertise. Financially it doesn't make sense, unless you have a few customers to sell it to, as Merc, Ferrari and Renault do.


Ahhh right. Thanks for the reply James!

Well I imagine McLaren can manage that and stir some interest among the teams, especially those of lower ranks and had been in collaboration with like FIF1, Virgin, etc. Since they intend to be the British Ferrari anyway. I can imagine them buying another engine company at some point in the future and make it into their own engine department for the cars division, and using some of those resources for F1 as well.

Marcin Bochra

Fonally good move for mu favourite team.

They need two good passionate racers, leave Rubens for next year but start looking for someone more energetic and young.

I wish I could see Kubica (if recovered) in the team... pure racers together going for top positions.


Bring on the classic Williams-Renault blue, yellow and white livery! They'd be mad to not bring that back now... can't wait


Great to see the partnership happen, but I doubt it'll do anything to improve William's current position till they get decent aero going 🙂 James, an off topic question slightly...do you think Bruno Senna has any chance of getting into F1? I'm just dying to see the Senna name back in F1. I understand there is lots of talent and Senna is inexperienced, but if Petrov and crash-kid Kobayashi can improve, I think if he's given a chance he might be decent.

I was completely disappointed when they brought Heidfeld in, I like Heidfeld but I felt this year was a perfect year to take a risk...and its clearly panned out that way as Renault are nowhere. I don't hear any noise of Renault being impressed or offering Senna a drive. If they aren't offering him a drive why even wait around? By the way James, I hope you can add a thumbs up/ thumbs down feature for posts so readers can rate comments, show agreement/disagreement and such. Some comments here are brilliant/hilarious and I just want to be able to give a thumbs up.


Ron Dennis launched the McLaren road car operation with a view to make some money and to emulate and surpassing his nemesis - Ferrari.

I'm sure Ron hasn't forgotten that Mr Ferrari always dismissed teams without their own engines as mere "garagists"

Putting economic issues to one side, Ron must surely have a strong desire to go a step further and have his own McLaren engine in the car ?

This would put McLaren on the same basis as Ferrari, further boost the image of the road cars and help to justify the cost.

James, do you know if this is under active consderation in Woking ?


"Garagists" is quite derogatory description for some F1 teams when you consider that some at least have a rich F1 history.

How interesting would F1 be with just a few "non-garagists" filling up the grid with more than 2 cars to showboat a car production business?


Mr Ferrari fully intended his comment to be derogatory to the British "Garagists" which, of course, included some of the greatest names in F1 history : Tyrell, Lotus, Brabham ( later run by Bernie ), Williams and McLaren as well as March ( run by Max Moseley ).

This was all a bit hypocritical :

Shortly before his death, Mr Ferrari pursuaded John Barnard to move from McLaren and as a result, some of their most successful F1 cars were designed by the Englishman.

Amazingly, while the engines were built in Maranello, the chassis were designed and built in Guildford !


There's a lot of talk about it, but it's a huge investment. Let's wait and see


I think that's Renault-Lotus James.

Don't give the (at least at this point) grand illusionists more credence than they deserve. Let's at least wait until Lotus are building GP cars and engines before pretending that they are an F1 force. Or Indy for that matter.

Not bad advertising though, although they will need to deliver soon if not to appear a hollow shell.

The proposed cars do look fantastic - but will they ever hit the road ?


Great news for French manufacturer Renault but not so good news for BRITISH engine manufacturer Cosworth. If this had happened to a French or German engine manufacturer, the French or German F1 fans wouldn't be congratulating the British engine company for taking away vital engineering business. God knows, we don't make enough things in Britain, so how comes this is good news, James??


I think this is a good move for Williams (long term) but I'm not expecting any miracles in the coming years. With the regs as they are engines are very close in performance these days so it's really all about aero. We all know that one team winning everything (Red Bull) are powered by the same engine as another team that rarely makes Q2 (Team Lotus).

Hopefully this deal will really pay off for Williams in 2014 when V6 Turbos make a return.


Its always good to see old companies coming back to F1 🙂


Hi James,

After backing the FIA over FOTA for cheap Cosworths last time around, will this bring Williams closer to the teams come 2013?



james, will the team be called ' Williams Renault' like the old days or will they just stick with williams?


No, it will be AT+T Williams Renault, is my understanding


http://www.attwilliamsrenault.com but i see this domain listed on ebay for sale US$1.5 million & a fair bit of talk on net about next years name. As its a dot com, williams will have to negotiate a price wont they ?



From reading one of your replies, I just have to ask and hope you'll reply. Do you really think Rubens still has what it takes to be on top in F1? I mean, all I see and read from Rubens is complaining about the car, tyres, team, etc.. It's never really his fault. I mean, I used to love the guy but lately ha has been, I hate to feel this way, more of an annoyance for me.


Yes he's still very quick and good technically


The comments for this article illustrate (for me at least) the shortcomings of the engine restrictions in F1. We, the fans, are passionate about engines. Engines are something we care about. Current F1 cars are aerodynamic masterpieces, but I think most of us would rather see a massive reduction in aerodynamic expenditures and a return to the engine wars of old (with a "green" twist of course).

Adrian Newey Jr

James - Have there been any discussions to your knowledge about who would/could replace Rubens?


Nigel Mansell.


The Red number 5 at Silverstone. Doesnt get any better than that and thats what springs straight to mind when I heard the news.

Those days have gone but the memory of it lasts a life time!!



It would be very interesting for me, and hopefully many others, to get your views on the relative merits of the current Cosworth F1 engine, particularly as you have access to the views of leading F1 engineers.

I suspect that views of the Cosworth engine have been skewed by the teams they have supplied since returning in 2010 - would those teams really have performed significantly better if they had used any other available engine?


I think Cosworth has done pretty well. The power figures are comparable to the other engines, there's not really much to choose between engines these days in F1, they are all pretty close. Where they are perhaps a little behind is on things like the Exhaust Blown Diffuser technology, but that's on its way out now. Key question as far as Cosworth are concerned is, will they have enough customers to justify building a 2014 turbo engine?


This is just a Williams bad time. I'm sure that williams will be the most important F1 team again. Long life Frank.


Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the web the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while people think about worries that they just don't know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

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