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.”