Wolff on Williams’ driver deliberations and the 2014 engine regs
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Nov 2012   |  1:37 pm GMT  |  67 comments

Williams executive director Toto Wolff insists the team has not yet decided which two drivers it will pair together in 2013, with the option of retaining the current line-up “one of the possibilities”.

Incumbents Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna have both experienced mixed seasons, part explaining why the team sits only eighth in the constructors’ championship despite a big step forward in car performance, although the former has delivered the more eye-catching results with a win in Barcelona and a number of impressive Q3 laps.

Senna by comparison has consistently struggled to match Maldonado’s qualifying feats, yet has been the more consistent top-10 finisher, albeit in the more minor points position. The Brazilian’s nine points finishes in 18 races is as many as both Force India drivers and Romain Grosjean, and two more than the McLaren-bound Sergio Perez.

It is Senna, however, who is thought to be under direct threat from the team’s highly-regarded Friday practice driver Valtteri Bottas. Speaking to the new edition of the JA on F1 podcast, Wolff, when asked if he envisaged keeping the same two drivers for 2013, said: “It is one of the possibilities.

“I like Pastor a lot. He’s not only a great guy, he has tremendous speed and he just needs to get it right and I think the more experience he will get the better that it will be. He had some tough races and tough moments this year, being blamed for being a crash driver. So it makes him stronger and I believe in him.

“Equally Bruno has shown okay performances, good performances, scored points. But then we have Valtteri also who is a long-term prospective and who is judged as being the new kid on the block. So we are not yet there.”

Wolff, who has moved into a more front-line role at Williams this year following the departure of Adam Parr, also had some strong views on the consistently controversial topic that dogs F1 for the season after next, the 2014 turbo engine regulations.

Bernie Ecclestone recently cast doubt on whether the new engine format would ultimately see the light of day but Wolff admits that although he generally feels F1 should never have even started down that road in the first place, the journey is now irreversible – particularly as the team’s own engine supplier, Renault, recommitted to the sport on that premise.

“My own personal view is that it should have never happened,” he explained.

“It was agreed to make a new engine without having properly analysed how much that engine would cost in terms of development and in terms of research and running it later on. The engine manufacturers have started developing their business. All of them are pretty much on the way. They have spent millions and millions to develop it, some of the manufacturers don’t have now even the benches anymore for the old engines.

“Renault made it conditional in staying in the sport that a new engine is in there, so my honest opinion is it’s quite late to change that decision and I support our engine manufacturer’s position which is in favour of the new engine.”

You can listen to the full wide-ranging interview with Toto Wolff, along with revealing chats with both current Williams drivers and FIA president Jean Todt, in the November edition of the JA on F1 podcast, which is available to download now from iTunes or directly via this link.

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Tornillo Amarillo

Reading him between lines, the line-up for 2013 is…




Comparing Ayrton with Bruno is a huge mistake, as one had a normal career since his teens while the other was 10 years out of racing. Not only that, Bruno also had results to get to F1 in 2009 and just had not the opportunity to show what he could do at the right time. That did him maybe even more damage than all the time he had lost before. 4 races in LMS in 2009, a season with HRT in 2010 and half a season out of racing in 2011 was a very poor development for a driver who had started his career only at 21. At the same time many other young people had much better conditions to develop, with full and competitive seasons in F1 or even in GP2.

So, I think he very much deserves a proper chance to develop, as even this year he was not in equal terms with all the others, due to giving his car to another driver in 15 FP1.


Maldonado appears to have learned a lot of late and hasn’t made an error of note since Spa. Given his raw speed, which is up there with anyone, they should absolutely keep him.


I hate to say this, so forgive me, but I think Senna’s name got him into Formula One, and not his talent so much.

Look what his uncle did in so called middle of the pack cars, he made a name for himself (like maldonado, except he did it many times). When your in a middle of the road team, you need to show the odd sign of brilliance. Perez did many times this year, and he has got his reward.


Loved the podcast as usual James. Great interview with Toto Wolff, it’s scary how much he sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger!

I hope Bruno gets a good drive next year and can turn his qualifying problems around, he’s fast but erratic like a young Massa.


Personally, I rate Senna. His big disadvantage is that he misses one session on every GP weekend while Bottas drives around. So Senna has to get his qualifying and race setup sorted with much more limited running and if he loses any of those sessions for any reason he’s in trouble. He’s lost a few sessions this season. You only have to look at some of the top teams where if a driver loses a session he struggles in qualifying (Webber springs to mind). So actually, I think in those circumstances he’s done pretty well. And as far as race pace goes, he’s miles in front of Mald. Far more consistent and gets points. Remember, points means money. Without that win, Senna would be the man brining in all the constructors cash, not Mald.

It’s a massive risk to bring in Bottas. He looks great but he’s under absolutely no pressure. I’d try to farm him out to another team to get some real race exposure and keep Bruno and give him a full weekends running.

But sadly, Williams have a history of “bold” drivers choices that often don’t work out and I expect them to stick to form and pick Mald and Bottas.



I have also been impreased with Senna’s improved form this year. Senna really does deserve a drive for next year.

Remember when Delarosa was test pilot for Maclaren and he had a drive one weekend. He out qualified his team mate but in the race he went backwards. Bottas is quick there is no doubt but so is Grosjean.

If I was Wolff I would retain Senna farm out Bottas to another team drive and employ Jamie Alguasari who has complete notes on next years tyres.


At the end of the day Senna does have some money behind him, so I’m sure he’ll still have a drive next year. My money is on Caterham.



The presence of Toto Wolff and his vested interest in Bottas just makes the direction all the more obvious, which I really hate to see. Consistency and great race pace should count for something, especially when Williams are still recovering from their worst season in decades. Sadly, based on his quote above, apparently it barely registers on his radar. Oh well, at least Senna’s teams (as in mechanics and engineers) always seem to love him. It’s his bosses who end up being the problem.


I wondering if Williams are trying their best to keep Pastor, cause frankly with Pastor not driving for them next year, that’s a big issue for shareholders, who have to be dealt with the money void very quick 🙂

Adrian Newey Jnr

The problem for Bruno is the same as the TR drivers. They’re good enough to get to F1, but they don’t seem to be “great”. There are unfortunately a lot of “good” drivers to chose from now. This means Williams can chose their best option.

Williams is fortunate that the turnaround in performance also means that they get a greater share of the F1 revenues. This reduces their reliance on pay drivers. Hence, I don’t think any sponsorship Bruno would bring would be the deciding factor.



My recommendation: Bottas and Kobayashi, or maybe Jaime Alguersuari. I hope Alguersuari gets a ride at a good team. But from a business perspective, I think Kobayashi is a great driver, and I think there should be sponsorships to be had from Japan, for the best Japanese driver in F1 history, by quite a bit.

On the engine issue:

From a my fan perspective, the fairly significant change in formula for the engine represents an unknown factor, that rolls the dice, again, and then there will be the learning curve, after they’re in; so I expect a shake up in the existing order, and I like that.

But I do like the sound of the V8s, though not as much as the last iteration of the V10s; now they sounded nice!


I wonder how many points a Button or Webber wouldve picked up in that Williams this year? I think, even on raw pace, they are both faster/consistent than the two Williams drivers and they are certainly less error prone.

Maldonado has impressed in a few races and qualifying sessions but it’s hard to judge whether that was him punching above his weight or just putting the car where it should be.

It’s fantastic to see Williams up there again this year. I started watching F1 in the early 90s and it’s been hard to watch them struggle in the midfield battle in recent times. I’d love for them to build a rocket next year and see them mix it for the WCC.

James, what impact has Coughlan had on the team this year? Can you put the much improved performance down to his signing at all? Brilliant move by Frank if so, just shows he’s as clever as ever.


Button or Webber are faster than Maldonado??? Button had the same problems with tyres that Bruno had, even without losing FP1 and driving for McLaren. In Williams things could only go even worse for him.

Maldonado is one of the fastest of F1 in qualifying, maybe level with Hamilton on raw speed in a single lap. In Spa he even managed to beat Raikkonen with a Williams clearly inferior to the Lotus. Button and Webber could be quicker and better than Maldonado only in races, but so does Bruno. In races Bruno’s raw pace is as good as most of the grid and in some races he was as quick as the best of them.


I think Pastor is really fast but unexperience in formula 1, the thing is that he is not a young driver like all other rookies so he better learns fast before he starts running out of shape.

Im Venezuelan and its sad to know that PDVSA (Venezuela’s pretoleum company goverment owned) backed Pastor with 150 million dollars in a 5 year deal with Williams with all the problems with have in our country, its really sad.

So Pastor is a paid driver but I do think he deserves to stay in Williams (not for the money but for the speed)


Alberto it’s only going to get more ugly as your country prosper. I think it’s much better that the money are spent on something like F1, that gives millions of people sincere joy, rather than CEO’s being fired for making ethical decisions because they are not increasing shareholders wealth.


I think Williams had the car to challenge Force India in terms of total points but on the race days they have not got the best out of the package on a consistent basis (this includes driver’s experience).


Wolff personally has a reasonable stake in Bottas (10% IRRC) so it doesn’t fare well for Bruno. Nepotism is one thing, but being in a position to choose a driver that you have a personal financial stake in does smack a bit of conflict of interest.

Bye-bye Bruno, I’ll be sorry to see you go.


Does Bottas bring a lot of money to the table. As James told us a couple of time ago, we are living in the bad time of the sport in which money and strange believes are getting over teams heads.

Bruno Senna looks to me to be one of the better drivers this season.

The hype around a young driver which drive only on the Friday’s can not compare with a pilot who drive good on Sunday without the crucial Friday practice time.

Same goes for Kamui Kobayashi, an excellent driver. A podium driver, but will get kicked out because for money.

Williams is a great team, but has a total disrespect to their drivers.

Consistency is also keeping the same good drivers for as long as possible and to support them so that together they can build in the long term a winning team.


Bottas has no formal sponsorship. There are quotes around stating that he has obtained 75% of Senna’s (10mill) sponsorship.

Obviously we don’t know if the remaining 25% will be required of if its enough to warrant a punt.

Also, you only have to read into Williams past to understand why drivers are treated as they are. Basically, it’s all Alan Jones’ fault and explains why Williams haven’t ever really retained a champion.


If they had’ve kept Barichello they’d probably be a bit higher than 8th in the standings with most likely more than one win. Poor guy does all the driver side ground work for two years to see it borderline squandered.


Barrichello didn’t win a single race with a dominant car (first half of 2009), so he would never win with a Williams that was never the class of the field and most of the time was only the 5th or 6th best car…


I don’t think your points are totally fair Fernando Cruz. Rubens struggled in the first half of the year mainly because his car had brembo brakes that suited Button (Not him) In the second half of the season he switched to Carbon Industries brakes and the only race Button beat Rubens in was Singapore, when he was ahead until had a slow stop and was screwed over behind the safety car.

Also look at Rubens’ Indycar results this year: He has been in the points and almost on the podium a few times in a series where the cars are very different to what he’s used to, and he is in KV: not in one of the best teams. Okay, maybe Button is a better driver when the car is good, but look at 2008; Significiantly more points in a rubbish car, and a great podium at Silverstone. Where was Button on that day, in the wet conditions where he usually excels? In the gravel trap.

Also, Alex made a great point; what about all the behind the scenes development work Rubens did that we didn’t see? Let’s be honest, the only reason he isn’t there is because Sam Michaels and Patrick Head are no longer involved. The way he was dropped by Williams without so much as a “Thanks” was horrible. That said, he is nearly 40 now, and time waits for no man. (I personally think Rubens is at least better than 2010-2012 Schumacher)


Rubens would have comfortably won in Spain 2009, if it were not the team screwing over his race with a nonsensical strategy. If Rubens had have been given preferential treatment the way Button was given, Rubens would have won at least 5 races 2009, and probably more.

What happened to Rubens in 2009 is similar to what happened to Rubens at Ferrari 2000-2004, and what happened to Webber 2009-2012 at Red Bull. Given Number 2 status.


The slower and less complete driver soon becomes the number 2, that is pretty obvious. But he was at the team for a long time (since 2006) had a lot of experience (16 years) and he didn’t lose FP1, unlike Bruno this year.

Yes, he could have won in Spain, but overall Button was much better than him, much more complete, better in overtaking people and making less mistakes. Barrichello was only better in the second half of the season due to the traditional Button slump in form when the car is not so easy and dominant. But even then Button drove better in races, with better race craft and with no mistakes, even when he finished behind Rubens.


…but came of age on the second half of the season scoring two absolutely perfect wins in Valencia and Monza and also had one of the top 3 points rally in the remaining 8 races.

And your point was…?


In Valencia and Monza the Brawn was still one of the best cars, only not as dominant as in the first half of the season. In Valencia he was lucky with Hamilton delay in his last stop, in Monza the Brawn was the class of the field in the race, although not so in qualifying.

The point is that Barrichello would never win a race in a Williams that is far from being the class of the field. Maybe he would have more points, but even in 2011 he never put the car in Q3, while Maldonado was a rookie and put it 3 times in the Top 10 of qualifying.


Based on the praise dished to each Williams driver by Wolff, it appears it will be Maldonado & Bottas for the 2013 season.

But just to be on the safe side, I would have given Bottas the last 3 races in the car just to make sure am making the right choice & if it turned out he was not that much better than Bruno then I would have gone for the other reserve drive >>> Mrs Wolff.

Now glad to know Bernie’s plans to get rid of the V6 engines maybe dead in the water for some of us changed teams in the hope of having an advantage in 2014 so that would have really ruined our prospects for the future.

Bring on the 2014 season already.


Maybe there’s a measure of lost in translation with the interview, but Wolff couldn’t be more obvious in hiding his relative dislike of Bruno.

He gushes about the money-spinner, talks dismissively of the guy who’s been more consistent but doesn’t bring a whole lot of money to the table, then gives a big punt to the driver he personally backs.

People cried nepotism wrt to his wife’s appointment as test driver – looks like it extends to the race drivers too.


Senna has been consistently slower – sorry, because he seems a decent man.


In qualifying, yes. In the races, absolutely not. You don’t win points on the Saturday.


Slower, yes, but he’s still earned almost half of his teams tally. Were it not for him, Maldonaldo’s inconsistency could have left Williams behind Toro Rosso again.

Regardless, I agree that Senna has had a mediocre season and he *is* only there for his money. I just didn’t like the way Wolff responded to the question – he might as well have already said ‘Senna is out at the end of the season – he’s just keeping the seat warm for my boy Bottas’.


I think it’s pretty obvious from his answer that what will happen is what everyone thought already. Bottas to potentially replace Senna. Personally I’d give it a 60:40 chance for Bottas to come in.


You think it;s obvious? But then only give it a 60:40 chance of happening???


The Finns are going to have to come out of their pockets with some serious cash money for Bottas to get that seat over Senna, who does have some decent results and Brazilian slats (crisp bank notes). Only the top four teams are paying their drivers, these days.


I hope they give Bottas a chance. Go Valtteri!


I think Maldonado is a potential world class driver. As Toto Wolff says he’s got that “tremendous speed” which you can’t learn, and out of the established top 5 or 6 I can’t see anyone better. More potential than Di Resta, Senna,the Toro Rosso boys, and probably Sergio Perez…If he could put together a relatively incident free season I think he’d be on the radar for a top team.



you can learn the rest but you can’t learn to be fast …and he is


Fast, and nuts. Hard to believe how easy he made it look at Catalunya. I reckon he could win championships in the right circumstances.


“Is that F1 fan since 2011 or since you were 11?”

Since 2011. I didn’t watch much f1 before that.

I’m 24 now 🙂


“Could you envision a TV commercial or a high profile add with those looks and that “serial killer” stare?”

No, Pastor could never sell cosmetics like Bruno does with Gillete, head and shoulders.

I can however imagine him selling death – chainsaws perhaps?

Or maybe he can just continue using PDVSA as a sponsor and will never have to use his looks to gain a seat. I think that teams are only looking for good looking guys. The only people on the grid who aren’t good looking are Maldonado, Petrov and Pic. Even Petrov and Pic are slightly warmer looking than Maldonado. Pastor’s girlfriend is EXTREMELY cute though, so he’s got no reason to care..


I don’t think anyone should get into F1 unless they are good looking, however good they are as a driver.

The 24 on the grid should be selected by Simon Cowell, given a contract for 6 months, then ditched.

FFS, F1fanSince 11, are you 12 yet?


Know this isn’t an English class but although I can’t envision it – I could envisage it!

This appearance thing is beside the point – if he’s fast enough he’s good enough. And actually he always comes across as very personable when he’s interviewed. More so than the sainted Raikonnen – although that’s no problem – I love Raikonnen….


Is that F1 fan since 2011 or since you were 11?


No way he’s getting into a top team. He might have the speed but those guy’s, in top teams, has to be marketable and PM is not. Could you envision a TV commercial or a high profile add with those looks and that “serial killer” stare?


serial killer stare…hilarious 🙂 and so true!!


If he can only say Bruno has had some ‘okay’ performances it would be interesting to hear how he describes his wife’s DTM performances over the past 5 years or so….

Adrian Newey Jnr

Listen to the podcast and you’ll find out.


Correction: Button won his first F1 race in his 7th year.


Correction correct congratulations


Maybe a bit offtopic from the Williams drivers, but it looks like Luca Di Montezemolo was right about Perez when he said is too inexperienced for Ferrari.

Looks like Martin Withmarsh has just realized and admited this.

I hope Perez will prove them wrong and have very strong and consistent results next year, but so far Perez doesn’t show it.


Luca’s opinion does feel about right doesn’t it. Still, Hamilton started making a lot of mistakes and he has come through the other side rather well.

Isn’t Perez a ‘pay driver’? If so he’ll be the first in a top team for a long while…..

By the way, who is this Wolfe guy really? Does he have a motor-racing history or is he another bean counter like Parr? I dislike intensely what I have seen and heard of Parr, should I be giving Wolfe some respect?


if they do their job well it doesn’t matter what their history is. flavio knew nothing about f1 when he started and he did ok


Just browse some vids of him driving a porsche at the nurburing and you will respect him.


“Toto Wolff started his motorsports-career 1992 in Australian Formula Ford Championship. He was driving in Austrian and German Formula Ford during 1993 and 1994. 1994 he won the 24 Hours Nürburgring in his category. In 2002 Wolff finished sixth place at the FIA NGT world championship and won one race. In 2003 he won a race of the FIA GT/GT1 series in Italy. 2004 Toto Wolff was racing together with Karl Wendlinger at the FIA GT[2] Championship series. Toto Wolff became Vice-Champion at the Austrian Rally Championship in 2006 and Winner of the 24-hours-race in Dubai.[3]. Wolff also served as an Instructor at the Walter Lechner Racing School.”


Bottas has impressed the team with his speed but lacks consistency to do better than Senna if he is given the opportunity to replace him next year, which is only natural, as the Brazilian has already some experience that the young Finn has not.

Talking about Senna’s problems with tyres this year, I think not even the driver himself can be absolutely 100% sure he won’t have any of them next year. But I think most probably he will be fast enough again (as he was in 2011) so that he can win races if he has a good car. He has a smooth style similar to Button’s, so he may never be as quick as a Maldonado in a single lap, just like Button is always a bit slower than Hamilton. But drivers like that can still win races and with some luck even championships, as Button has proved. Remember he won his first race in F1 in his 8th year and I believe Senna can do better than that if he is given the opportunity to develop himself in F1, with a first proper season, without losing FP1 almost everywhere. If he can’ do that in Williams (if Bottas replaces him) he still may have an option with Force India.

The real shame of this situation is that Bruno Senna had better results in junior categories than some people who later became World Champion. Had he got the Brawn drive in 2009 he could have won races in his rookie year and maybe even fight for the title. His confidence was at his best at the time, as he had almost won GP2 title. He deserved more to be in Brawn in 2009 than Damon Hill deserved to race in Williams in 1993 as he had better results in junior categories. The problem for him was Honda’s withdrawal due to the financial crisis. That led to him having 3 years without a proper development and that is the real cause for his problems as he also could have entered in 2010 with an established team but had no sponsors for that at the time.

I hope he stays for next year as I think he still can recover the ground he lost these last few years. In races he is already as good and quick as most of the grid and he just needs to improve in qualifying to become a very good f1 racing driver. He’s still 29, so he’s 3 years younger than Damon Hill was in his first full season in F1.


He won’t get any quicker.


He is already quick enough in races. What he lacks is speed in qualifying but only this year, as he has been quick in F3, GP2 and last year in Lotus, when he got to Q3 four times in only eight attempts! So the potential is clearly there, it’s a question of time.

Had he had the conditions Damon Hill had in his time he would surely do at least as good, as he showed more talent and had better results in junior categories.


Yes, I agree with many things you say. But why couldn’t he do better this year? He lacks potential to be quick in qualifying? No, his record of 2011 proves he can be fast enough, as he put the Lotus in Q3 four times. So, what is the problem? Tyres not so suitable to drivers with a particularly smooth style? Yes, as Button has a similar style to him and had the same problems in many weekends, both suffering to warm enough their tyres in a single lap. Losing FP1? Yes, as he enters FP2 when his rivals have already some mileage and some ideas about the set up. Furthermore part of FP2 he has to change the set up of the car as his style is different to Bottas’s. Also, if he has a problem in FP2 or FP3 he may be completely lost about the correct set up in comparison with others and particularly his team mate. Even if he has no particular problem in any sessions he does, sometimes he runs in FP3 not knowing the right direction to take in set up, as he did not run in FP1 at the same time of the day, in the morning. So losing FP1 is much worse than some people might think and I can’t wait to see him in a proper season in equal terms with all his rivals and his team mate!


You make the case for the Williams teams disappointment –

he should have got better not worse ( in qualifying ).


Fernando, you make a reasoned and sensible argument even if I disagree with comparing him to drivers of a different era, or speaking of wins he could have had if he’d driven in 09.

However, after over two seasons worth of top level racing should he not have enough experience to be putting his pace into more impressive results? He had a brilliant race the weekend past, but he needs to have that break through performance in Q3 and the race. The car has clearly been capable of the big results required, the driver hasn’t wrung it’s neck hard enough.

I can see Williams putting Bottas into the seat next season, with SEN moving to FI or Caterham. If Williams are going to have a fast but incomplete driver in the seat, why not have the young long term prospect in it?

I think it would be a shame for SEN to leave F1, but it’s a real possibility. Let’s hope he digs deep and pulls a rabbit out of the hat in the last races. A podium would go a long way to ensuring his future. The same can be said for DIR actually…..


I don’t think he deserves another chance. I reckon his disadvantage is that he wasn’t racing during his teens. He stopped racing karts around the age of ten, and didn’t go back, I think to Formula BMW, until he was 21. He missed out on all that competition and development of any talent; the fact that he is competitive at all, despite this, is impressive. But, overall, I think he’s good but not great, like Buemi, Alguersuari, Sato, Davison. Bottas has a big reputation, so give him a go.


He’s good but not great, just like guys like Damon Hill or Jenson Button were also good but not great in their former years. Damon won races in his rookie year just because he had by far the best car and almost unlimited testing. Button was not so lucky and won his first race only in his 7th year. Probably Bruno Senna would have won races had he started with Brawn in 2009, but he was very unlucky not to get that drive. However, he can still do as good or even better than Button if he is given a proper chance in F1, without losing all those FP1. Also I don’t know how people think Bottas is the next Mika Hakkinen. If he really is that good, then maybe Felix da Costa is the next Ayrton Senna, why not?


Hill’ s season with Brabham is irrelevant, as he only managed to qualify for 2 races with a car that was as bad as a HRT of these days. His first full season was 1993 with Williams. Yes, top teams could be fighting to sign Bruno Senna had he started with Brawn. What happened is that he had absolutely no chance to shine at the right time. That was the reason many other young talents could shine more and attract more most of the teams. Younger talents tend to be more attractive to most of the teams these days, that is the way it is. If Bruno stays in F1 for the years to come he may change that or at least he may win races if he has a good car. He is already as quick and good as anyone in races, he just needs to recover his 2011 form in qualifying, which will be easier if he doesn’t lose FP1 almost averywhere.


I think Hill’s rookie year was with Brabham in ’92… if Bruno was any good, top teams would be fighting to sign him. His best hope is Caterham; they’ll like his money!

Bjornar Simonsen

Well said. +1

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