Success of upgrades helps Williams close the gap to its rivals
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  21 Jun 2014   |  6:11 pm GMT  |  29 comments

This morning we pointed to good correlation between wind tunnel and track as a key part of Williams’ progress this season and following this afternoon’s first front-row lockout since 2003 for the team, second-on the-grid Valtteri Bottas confirmed that the success of the stream of upgrades brought to the FW36 so far this year has made the difference.

“We haven’t been making any bad updates,” he said. “If we have brought something it has always worked and that has been a big improvement from last year.”

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 18.07.48

As our technical expert Mark Gillan said, the major gains in time are currently being made, as ever, aerodynamically and correct correlation between the figures delivered in the wind tunnel and those obtained when the parts are run at the track is crucial to keeping pace with and closing in on rivals. Williams’ ability to obtain good results has seen it make progress more rapidly than many of its rivals.

“We can really put all the energy into the right direction, developing parts and knowing that they will work, so, no energy wasted – that’s good,” added Bottas.

The Finn also hailed the impact made by Pat Symonds at the Grove outfit saying the former Marussia and Renault technical chief is playing a key role in the team’s renaissance.

“I think we can see it in the performance,” said Bottas. “I think the results have shown that he’s been one of the key persons for Williams to come back to closer to the positions where we belong to be in the races. As soon as he arrived, many things started to change and are still changing. Every week, as a team, we are still getting stronger and stronger, so we are definitely on the right way and that is thanks to Pat but also many other people in the team.”

Felipe Massa, who took the 16th pole of his career and his first for almost six years, agreed that the team’s progress has been marked but the Brazilian still deferred to Mercedes dominance so far this year saying that he and Bottas are in for a tough battle tomorrow.

“We e cannot forget what Mercedes has been doing up to now,” he said. “We cannot forget that they didn’t have a clean qualifying as well. For sure, for [at] the moment they are in front. For the moment, they are stronger.”

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The Brazilian did, however, sound a further note of optimism. “I hope, during the championship we can close or maybe can even pass (them). This is what we’re always working for, you know. But I think it’s not enough to say that we are there with Mercedes. I think that for the moment we don’t know. For the moment is maybe this track helps us definitely, but we don’t know. I think we will see a very strong Mercedes tomorrow, so we need to be ready for everything, we need to be ready also that finishing behind them is still an incredible job for us.”

Whether the duo can keep Rosberg at bay remains to be seen. Two stops is expected to be the most likely strategy. A one-stop may be considered but with warmer temperatures forecast that is risky. A supersoft, soft, soft race is likely for the front runners including Williams. Those starting beyond tenth, however, such as Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel, may try for the reverse, bolting on the supersofts in the final stint for a late blast on low tanks. The success of that gambit will hinge on a team’s belief in its driver’s ability to overtake here.

Rosberg certainly still believes his WO5 Hybrid is good enough to allow him to do that.

“The chances for the race are obviously good from P3,” he said. “It’s more difficult than starting on the front row, of course, but it’s still a good chance there because I think it’s possible to overtake on this track. First stint, also, the tyres are going to degrade massively on the Option, so already there maybe at the end of the stint there’s a little bit of a chance. And I’ll have a good race car for sure.

“It’s a short track here and still we have the fastest car, even today,” he added. “It’s just that I didn’t get that second lap to give it a go and my first lap, the balance was not good. For the race I’m sure I’ll have a good car, so, I think that’s a very small view that we’re taking now: two races, no wins, no pole… or no pole now. But I still think we’re dominant and definitely have the fastest car and I hope it’s going to stay like that for some time to come.”


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Maldo didn’t have a wall chase him down and run into him this weekend. Things are looking up.


Thank God for Williams Maldonado jumped shipped to lotus, although Maldonado must be gutted.


Anyone else fancy Ricci for this race?

Ricci, Rosberg, Massa.

No, make that Ricci, Rosberg and Bottas.


So much sporting events going on with the World Cup, last week Le Mans and now Austria’s GP.

With an awesome scenery around the track and a fantastic elevation the race should be good I feel.

Hope Massa can keep his spot with a victory. Timing is good as race does not clash with the World Cup. Am looking forward!


So, Vettel and Hamilton get a driving lesson from their team-mates….again! lol


Not even close. Hamilton was up 4 tenths on the pole time on his first run. If not for the off that disallowed his time, he would have won pole with that pace. Rosberg wasn’t as quick as the Williams in Q3, and Hamilton was quicker than the Williams.

Only an ill-informed fan would call today’s result between Rosberg and Hamilton a “driving lesson.” More like a lesson in settling for 3rd.


Actually, only an ill-informed fan would claim that Hamilton was the stronger driver in q3, he was pushing too hard, simple as. If you can’t keep the car on track then you’re certainly not driving to your full potential


Actually if you can’t keep the car on track then you’re certainly drive too much above your full potential.


I still think that on the prime tyre Mercedes will run away with the win ….their pace advantage was obvious more so on the prime


1. Who also feels that Massa is going find how to lose the chance of win?

2. Pat Symonds rocks.


I like Massa, but feel sorry for Perez as he will now be starting down in the eighth row, following his five position loss, for what I believe was no more than a racing incident.


HAM coming through those slower cars in front of him should add a bit to an already promising race, on a proper, albeit a bit short, racetrack.


I remember the superb comeback drives from the back of the field from Coulthard and Hakkinen in their McLarens at this circuit in the late 90s, Hamilton would do well to study them. Notably though, neither of them came back to win, and both still obviously finished behind their team-mates…


Yet again Rosberg beat Hamilton on a dry Q.


Hmm, on the first runs Lewis was 6-tenths up on Nico through Sector 2. Not sure that it’s possible to say that Nico’s best lap has beaten Lewis’ best lap ever this year. Bahrain would be the closest.

Nico is doing the business, I’ll give him that. It’s a far cry to go from that, to then say he’s faster than Hamilton. He’s clearly not.


Not exactly on straight up pace this time though.


Not being big headed or conceited (I’ll leave that to Luca DM) but I did say on this forum that the acquisition of Pat Symonds was a very smart move by Claire (she signed him personally I believe).

Can one man in F1 really make a difference? No of course not. However, what one man such as Pat can do is provide vision, direction and a clarity of thought when it comes to the aerodynamic development of a chassis and an inspired, solid leadership it terms of the aero direction of a car.

Pat’s a savvy street wise operator who knows how to maximise the aerodynamic platform of a car, particularly when new regulations. We saw that back in 2005 when he optimised the one set of tyres rule that saw the excellent Renault R25 scoop the drivers and constructors titles. A year later, he oversaw the transition to V8 power again rewarded with both titles. That’s good pedigree. I also rate Pat on his excellent development strategy throughout the year to keep both cars and teams competitive.

Also add on the straight talking no-nonsense Rob Smedley to help Pat guide the technical crew at Grove and you have potential at Grove that is showing up dramatically – such as locking out the front row on merit!

F1 is a team sport, agreed. But a team always needs a leader who can guide the team in the right direction: Williams have that this year.


signing pat was a smart move but williams have wolf to thank for providing them with more mercedes data than the other mercedes teams as he owns some William shares.


aveli, spot on Symonds is a winner, he has a good track record, I believe that his groundwork has helped Marussia improve this year also?

Now your Toto jibe, I think it goes further than that. For some time now I could not recompense in my mind why there were such large gaps between the Mercedes powered cars, as we are told the hardware is all the same. Mercedes were over a second a lap faster and appeared to have some in reserve.

So what have we got now? I suspect that most of the hybrid engine developments are software, i.e. how the three power units inter-react. I can’t help thinking that Mercedes is on the latest version of software, so Mr Wolff I believe could be influential with what is given to the customer teams:-

Mercedes ver 3

Williams ver 2.5

Force India ver 2

Maclaren ver 1

Of course this can never be proved or disproved as all the versions are controlled by Mercedes, James what do you think?


Didn’t he recently sell his williams shares?


Good post Gaz

The design team at Williams must be pretty good as the design of the car would have started well before Symonds joined the team, but obviously they are really progressing this season, after the false dawn in 2012

The change in management Involving Claire Williams has presumably been a factor, Any other key changes or personnel Williams have picked up in the last few years?


RE JakodbusVdL: I don’t know when they joined specifically, but two emerging talent in Williams are Ed Wood (chief design) and Jason Somerville (head of aero). Jason has a degree in engineering from Loughborough University – the same college as Rob Smedley went to! I think Ed did a course in engineering science at Oxford, and has worked at Prodrive in the past.

I think those two have brought fresh thinking and a modern engineering approach to Williams. Being mentored by Pat and the newly recruited Rob Smedley has also steered Jason and Ed in the right design direction, so to speak!

Also the two race engineers Jonathan Eddols and Andrew Murdoch are very street wise, savvy operators.

And of course the big, straight talking no nonsense Rob Smedley knows how to marshall his troops!


Thanks gaz,

You obviously have a pretty in depth knowledge of the sport

It certainly looks like Williams are going in a very positive direction now

A really good car in 2012, and again this year, getting the martini sponsorship and by the sounds of it some great engineering and management talent.

where do you look ( apart from this awesome JA on F1 site) for your team and technology information?


Your talking rubbish. Pat doesn’t have a background in aerodynamics and is on record saying that he leaves it to others (either Mark Smith, the recently sacked Caterham tech boss, or Bob Bell, a man very heavily involved with this years Merc, was behind the R25. Renault ran two teams that would work on alternating cars). What he does have is an excellent touch for organisation and knowing how to get people in the right place to be working at their best, and that’s exactly what he’s done at Williams since he joined last year, got them making better use of the resources they have, both in terms of people and facilities.


Hmm, Pat has no knowledge of aerodynamics?

Actually squire he went to Cranfield University where he gained a Masters Degree – a Masters Degree! – in, guess what subject, aerodynamics!

Along with Imperial College, Cranfield is one of the best colleges/universities in the UK in the field of aerodynamic and aviation studies, although Southampton has a very good aero research facility (ask Adrian Newey!).

What Pat doesn’t know about downforce, aero balance, drag and CFD quite frankly isn’t worth knowing……………..

So yes, Pat does have an aerodynamic background and training! Perhaps next time check Wikipedia………..


To be honest, Ferrari are doing well at the moment with the development too, if their windtunnel still was as awfull as it used to be they already would’ve been miles behind Merc. Or is my view on this horribly wrong?


Well, they are miles behind Merc, and they are the only team on the grid that doesnt have an excuse for that.


Brilliant! Delighted for the guy.


Finally we get to see what Williams were promising during winter testing but weren’t delivering on the ground.

For sure Williams have been putting in the hours back at the factory for ever since the first race when it became clear the team was lacking downforce in the wet, they went back to the drawing board and produced parts that would give the team a boost.

Now the only thing the team needs sorting out is their pit stops and perhaps also lay some offerings on Massa’s behalf as he always seems to be under a dark cloud.

The most ironic thing about Williams improved performance in 2014 is the fans always thought it would have been Mclaren in this position considering Mclaren are running with the Mercedes engine too.

On the other side of the coin, could it be the supersofts are Mercedes’ achilles heel for we have seen in the past the team not make that big a leap in time once the supersofts get bolted on.

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