F1 season review 2016 – Williams slips back in the constructors’ championship
Mercedes
Posted By: Editor   |  27 Dec 2016   |  4:16 pm GMT  |  49 comments

Williams endured a disappointing 2016 Formula 1 season as it slipped back to fifth place in the constructors’ championship after finishing third in 2014 and 2015.

The Grove-based team started well, with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa delivering 65 points from the first five races, but things seemed to unravel after that.

Williams did improve its performance at Monaco, having delivered poor performances at the tight and twisty track in recent years, and scored a season’s best result courtesy of Bottas in Canada, but the team only took home 11 points from the races in Azerbaijan, Austria and Britain. Theses were held on power circuits where Williams had hoped to exploit the performance of its Mercedes power unit but ultimately failed to capitalise on that benefit.

Valtteri Bottas

Bottas delivered seven points finishes in the final 11 races, and Massa supplied six top ten results of his own, but they were largely for the lower points paying positions and the Finn’s fifth place at Malaysia was Williams’ best result in the second half of the year.

The size of Williams’ financial resources compared to the teams it finished behind in the 2015 constructors’ championship – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – meant it was always going to be tough to keep up with the rapid development rates of those teams. But what will be of huge concern for the squad was Force India moving ahead of it and seizing fourth place by the end of the year.

Williams had some problems with upgrades not working as expected in the middle of the year – particularly with the front wing – and the team’s head of performance engineering, Rob Smedley, acknowledged that the FW38 had not been quick enough.

Rob Smedley

He said: “[I’d like to say] thank you to all of the race team for the brilliant job they’ve all done. We know the car pace isn’t quick enough but they’ve never given up, always strived to get more performance and, between them all, they’ve done a really good job.”

Williams can at least take positives from the performance of its pit crew, which delivered the quickest stop at 14 races and broke the record for the fastest ever F1 pitstop, which it did at the European Grand Prix in Baku in 1.92s.

The British squad heads into 2017 with a lot of reshuffling going on behind the scenes. Its chief technical officer Pat Symonds will step down at the end of the year and a number of senior technical staff in the aerodynamic and production departments are also leaving. Mercedes’ technical chief, Paddy Lowe, has been tipped to join Williams next season.

Bottas vs Massa

Bottas delivered the lion’s share of Williams’ points haul of the fourth year in a row, scored the team’s only podium of the year, and defeated Massa 17-4 in qualifying – the best record against a teammate of any driver in 2016. He cannot be blamed for the FW38’s lack of pace, but there were relatively few occasions where he out performed the car. The 27-year-old is being considered by Mercedes as a replacement for its recently retired world champion, Nico Rosberg.

XPB.cc Felipe Massa

Massa finished in the points in the first six races but went off the boil in the middle of the year. He announced his retirement at Monza and his emotional walk through the pitlane after crashing at Interlagos was one of the most memorable moments of the season. Williams is reportedly set to keep hold of the Brazilian driver for 2017 if Bottas leaves for Mercedes.

What did you make of Williams in 2016? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

My observation is that Wiliams have progressively weakened over the last three years but it seems that Claire Williams thinks they have got stronger. “Pat has been a tremendous asset to this team over the past three years, Pat’s appointment was the start of a major restructuring exercise, and he has been pivotal in reshaping Williams into what is a much stronger racing team today.” So, maybe the team is stronger but is producing worse results but perhaps it hinges on one’s definition of stronger. It a little like George Orwell’s definition of ‘doublethink’ where one can hold two opposing views but believe both of them!

2

That the rumour of Massa, who left it 2-3 years too late to retire and got out qualified 17-4 is his final year, returning to Williams is considered credible tells you everything you need to know about the direction Williams is currently heading.

2017 is going to be a very tough year for them.

And what happens in Stroll starts out qualifying Massa….? Or Stroll starts demanding the car gets developed to suit him?

3

Yep .If Williams get Massa back then they are peeing into the wind. Massa is not an option. It’s ridiculous he is so past it. Brazil showed he is just riding his luck. There are plenty of good drivers out there begging for a return Heck I’d even plump for an experienced ex F1 driver like Kobayashi or J.E.V. (or for the comedy value Pastor M, am joking no way Pastor).

4

Kobayashi is my dream. Is he still a Ferrari WEC driver?

5

What was Pat Symonds relationship like with Felipe Massa in the end? I heard there was severe conflict, but it wasn’t confirmed.

6

Since going public, Williams have really lacked ambition… turning a sizeable profit for the shareholders is the number one goal, not winning. Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, just don’t expect them to ever again go for broke, so to speak.

7
BWOAH Racing Acid

Tbh Williams have had a rigid design philosophy for a while. The stiff, low drag set up of their cars since switching to Mercedes engines served them well in 2014 and parts of 2015, but with grip and downforce so vital next year, Paddy Lower will need to improve what will be designed for next year to ensure a top 4 finish. Sadly, Bottas will be a sizeable loss, his progression is arguably better than Rosberg at 27 years old.

8

James, you mentioned…

The British squad heads into 2017 with a lot of reshuffling going on behind the scenes. Its chief technical officer Pat Symonds will step down at the end of the year and a number of senior technical staff in the aerodynamic and production departments are also leaving.

Can you tell us who is leaving and what their roles where? This has been mentioned before but those of us outside of the inner circle never know who these people are or what they do.

Any news on who might be coming and from where to fill the vacated roles? I hear that James Key is arriving in 18. Others?

9

Will be weird to see Massa back at Williams after his ceremonial line of Teams applauding his retirement as he walked through pit lane at Brazil. Maybe after his reboot for a year he’ll just get a bunch of flowers and a gift token for Marks and Spencer or a 2 day bed and breakfast weekend at the seaside resort of Skegness. Otherwise it’s a big mistake to let him go back to Williams . They should get Di Resta or a DTM driver go rather short term . Or get JEV .

10

Force India had better drivers than Williams. That’s why it is fourth.

11

Agree.

12

Interesting. So Mercedes would be making a mistake with Bottas?

13

I think it’s more that Massa was the one bringing the pairing down. If it is a Massa-Stroll pairing at Williams next year, that will be the worst driver pairing in the paddock, unless Sauber go for Haryanto! Ericsson-Wehrlein as a probable pairing there, would be better. Still have the two Manor seats to fill out though … if the rumours about a Dennis/Indonesian KFC/Chinese investors buyout are true, then who knows what their lineup would look like.

14

In that Mercedes you can not go wrong!
Last three years we have been tricked to stay tuned and think someone will challenge Mercedes. Now again we hope after rules overhaul. Bottas will be even more dull to watch than Rosberg ever was but the aim is collecting points, so Mercedes “team” mantra can work as long the car is out in front and there is a slower but steady points collector.

Let`s hope there will be no buffer for errors next year for Mercedes.
Mercedes is like a sniper rifle you can operate on greate distance without putting yourself in danger, and you have time to succeed.
Red Bull in other hand is a shotgun you can use in close combat and for protection. Right now Red Bull need a elbow distance to have a chance – it`s just too different ways to fight to be interesting.

No to buffer, no to buffer, no to buffer…!

15

Well, if the recent history of “dream race seats” is anything to go by, it will not be the Valhalla Bottas would hope for.

Perez in the 2013 McLaren … was expecting a strong car, based on 2012, but it didn’t happen.

Ricciardo in the 2014 Red Bull … hopped into the 4x defending champion team’s car, so was hoping to be in a title-challenging car. It was the 2nd best car, but nowhere near capable of challenging for the title.

Kimi into the 2014 Ferrari … the last Ferrari champion, back at last, to give more balance to the team. We know how that went … a dire season from Kimi. Yes, the pull-rod front really hurt him more than Alonso, and the car wasn’t there regardless, but it wasn’t supposed to be as bad a homecoming season as it turned out to be.

16

Yep. Why didn’t they go for Checo?

17

Yes.
As they say in Finland “yli nimellisteho”

18

I think Bottas is at the same level of the Hulk and Checo (the FW38 didn’t help any driver shine), but Massa had clearly lost it.

So not looking forward to his performance in 18 if indeed Massa does come back due to Merc snapping up Bottas.

Will wait to pass judgement on Stroll.

19

don’t think hulk and checo are the same level, at least with these types.

As much as hulk is praised checo was by far the better driver and more consistent too.

I would put bottas below both them, however as he has failed to do anything like checos many podiums or hulks pole position.

20

This is a big year for Checo. His style was perfect for the narrower Pirelli’s. With the wider tires, I expect Hulk to be better than he was. For me, Hulk is a better driver than Checo, but was held back by the tires.

21

williams shouldve copied the mercedes’ cooling system in the air intakes and front wing design to get that engine working as well as mercedes did at least. doing that alone wouldve kept them ahead of force india atleast. they tried to do their own thing instead and boy did it hurt them?

22

Indeed, considering that’s the way Williams has traditionally operated, copying proven reliable design rather than going out on a limb.

23

sarcastic mode detected ( at least i hope?)

24

Being a Williams fan, I really, really, really hope what happened was that when it was obvious the top three was out of reach, Williams decided to shuffle almost all development to 2017, thinking that fourth place would be safe. And hopefully they did this earlier than most so again, really, really, really hope Williams can be in the top three again next year.

25

“as expected” could be added to the Headline and I hope, this is due to spending their time well on a 2017 car.

26

This is all the more worrying if Massa repeats his modest haul over the next season.Not really expecting much from the new kid.
At the end of the day when all the hysteria has died down Max was in one of the best cars this year.
Maybe Williams have a long term strategy with Lowe as that’s the only reason to let Bottas go and tumble down the standings.

27
Thread the Needle

Paddy Lowe will be a massive help to Williams and will know how to sort out those front wings for them

28

Williams should be in s strong position, they should be beating Ferrari and challenging Red Bull and punishing Mercedes when they slip up, but instead they lost the battle with Force India for fourth place. Next year is highly unlikely to be any better with a worse driver line up and no reason why the car will be any better than this years. Perhaps when Paddy and the other new guys have had time to establish themselves, then 2018 could be better, but Stroll is hardly going to help on track is he?

29

why should they be beating teams with more than double their budget and better drivers?

30

Richb. Because Ferrari are failing and Williams should be in a position to punish them for that, they have the best engine, and although their budget is half that of the big teams, it is double that of Force India.

31

ferrari are failing by their own standards, they still have 2 world champion drivers and a budget almost triple that of williams. that should more than make up for their small engine deficit to the mercs.
williams budget was £105m and force india spent £90m, far from double but yes williams should’ve beaten them

32

Richb, have you got good budget numbers? The ones I have seen have the top four all around the same sort of 400m figure with Williams on 200 and FI on 100. These may well be out of date though.

33

yes i got them from autosport this week. excluding engine merc spent £265m and ferrari £225m (£330m including engine)
red bull £215m, mclaren £185m – £60m payed by honda

34

Thanks Richb, will pick it up.

35

Well, if the rumors are true, we can only hope that Paddy Lowe can give the car that extra it needs. Because they’ve got the engine already. But I’m not to sure about there driver line up.
Good luck Williams for 2017😊

36

Who needs Bottas more for better WCC standings?

37

Would they get the same, equally motivated Bottas though? If Williams asked for too high a price, and Mercedes baulked, you think Bottas is going to be super motivated to do his best for a Williams team that just stood in the way of his perhaps only ticket to a big front-running team?

38

Sebee
Well, we 2 know the answer to that one! Williams would be crazy to let go of Bottas. But it blatantly obvious that Williams have become a puppet of Merc, and you can’t really blame them when they are just trying to survive.
Wehrlien to Merc!!!
Let’s start 2017 with a loud bang, and bonus points to sebee and myself😄😉

39

Not looking too good for you guys … unless Bottas was just on a visitors’ tour:

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/127595/bottas-visits-mercedes-base-as-deal-nears

40

@KRB
Someone has got to fight on wehrliens side😂 Even if it looks a little bleak🍻

41

I think generally the Williams took a wrong turn with the 2016 machine compared to the 2 previous years. With the reported arrival of Paddy Lowe we should see some moving up the grid in 2017.

42

What position does Williams finish in 2017 if Mercedes were to take Bottas? Even with cheaper engines and Paddy they probably stay 5th or slip back, unless they get the works PU.

Will Mercedes pay the likely lost prize money to Williams due to WCC standing slip? Engine discount doesn’t make that up, unless Williams is going to be guaranteed Mercedes AMG secrets to take them up the grid.

43

Mercedes arent responsible for Williams chassis or its drivers or how any of them come together

44

Clearly Mercedes can have a significant impact on all those things, if as reported, they take Bottas or gove Paddy or better engines. Yes?

45

Wouldn’t that be factored into the payout for Bottas? Hey, if they can get Mercedes to agree to it, anything can be included in any deal. Nothing is a given … has to be agreed to. If anything, Mercedes would want Williams doing well, taking points off RBR and Ferrari whenever possible.

46

The rumour has it at €10m disc on the engines. If Williams cant get a driver like Perez , Sainz or Grosjean for that sort of money – all of which could get similar or more points then Williams have bigger problems than Mercedes taking their beloved Valterri away

47

Ellie, those three drivers are all under contract for next season. Williams would have to buy them out of those contracts, assuming the teams were willing of course.

48

A lack of rear downforce and a poor mechanical layout has been Williams downfall in 2016. On wet tracks or street circuits where a raised ride height, soft suspension, reduced negative camber and a rearward brake balance is required, the FW28 has looked and performed woefully (it looked a rear handful on a slippery Silverstone surface for example).

Williams were an average of 117% behind the ultimate pace this year – exactly the same as Force India – however, the F.I. driven by Hulk and Checo has a better mechanical layout, enabling the Mexican-German team-mates to thrive on street circuits and slippery greasy wet conditions – in dire contrast with Bottas and Massa!

49
Tornillo Amarillo

Williams was set up for P4, but then “Spec B” from Force India driven by two focused racers -Perez & Hulk- just put them P5…
Not the end of the world, just fair.

Now that technicians and Bottas leave, Stroll rules. 🙂
Maybe they will be beaten by McLaren and just get P6 in 2017. Massa will say good bye again, and in 2018…

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