The end is near
Yas Marina 2017
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Analysis: The fourth is strong with Force India – will Williams recover from Spanish woes?
Posted By: Editor   |  15 May 2017   |  5:18 pm GMT  |  121 comments

Force India didn’t party much on Sunday night after being hit with a suspended €25,000 fine by FIA Stewards for failing to comply with Formula 1’s new numbering regulations – but it’s clear that the only number the pink outfit cares about is fourth.

The fight to be at the top of the midfield is just as competitive as the gripping lead battle this season, at times impossible to predict, as Williams, Haas, Force India, Toro Rosso, and Renault spar with all their might.

A spectacular fourth and fifth place finish in Spain continues Force India’s 100% points-scoring record this season so far as Esteban Ocon finished with a career-best fifth, a place behind the ever-reliable and much sought-after Sergio Perez. That was another 22 points in the bag on a day when Williams scored nothing.

Perez and Ocon’s latest success brought the team closer to Red Bull as Max Verstappen recorded a DNF, which is unprecedented seeing as Force India has downplayed its fourth-place credentials repeatedly, let alone any improvement on that.

Perez said, “I think Williams and Renault are a bit ahead, Toro Rosso as well,” to after the race in Bahrain last month in which he qualified 18th but finished seventh.

Behind Ocon was former Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg, sixth in the Renault and even Pascal Wehrlein of Sauber managed to score points after a convincing one-stop strategy race, having recovered from his early season injuries to earn an eighth place finish this weekend.

On the other hand, Williams, who expected to hold fourth in the constructors’ championship, are losing the battle for the coveted place, sitting far behind in sixth at the moment as rookie Lance Stroll finished 16th and Felipe Massa three places ahead for the Spanish GP.

Spanish struggles

Massa’s downfall started and ended with his Turn 2 puncture on the opening lap after contact which sent McLaren’s Fernando Alonso careering through the gravel. It was a racing incident and no blame was apportioned, but this made a points finish impossible for the briefly-retired Brazilian.

“His pace in clean air was very strong: He was matching Daniel [Ricciardo] lap-for-lap on his first stint. I think we had the potential to have a very good result,” said Williams’ Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe after the race.

Massa’s gap to Ricciardo only increased by 2.54 seconds after that first unfortunate pitstop. Massa’s race start was unlucky but there are still questions around Stroll.

It was a sorry sight for the young Canadian, who at one point was more than 50s ahead of Massa and even after having taken one fewer pitstop than the veteran, he finished more than 11.5s behind. Moreover, on lap 52, Stroll was overtaken by Marcus Ericsson whose Sauber is equipped with last year’s Ferrari engine.

Running on medium compounds pushed Stroll further down the field, his times dropping off below the 1m32s mark while Massa was lapping nearly six seconds faster on each of those final three laps.

What’s reassuring for Stroll is that his fastest lap was just over 0.3s slower than Massa’s and he wasn’t completely off the pace on soft tyres.

Williams’ engine also recorded the fastest speed trap time, at 211mph – 17mph faster than that recorded by Hulkenberg’s Renault – which may be a cause for concern for its midfield rivals as they race on power-hungry circuits like Montreal and Baku next month.

Stroll now has his work cut out for the Monaco GP, which he may have to write-off as a learning experience this year.

“In reality, nothing compares to Monaco,” said his team-mate to Le Journal de Montreal.

“Monaco is one of the toughest tracks of the season. Probably the most demanding of all, in fact. There are still problems for seasoned drivers.

“Lance is going to have a hard life in Monaco,” he continued.

Midfield mastery

Monaco has been a rich hunting ground for Force India in recent years. However Ocon has never raced in the Principality and it’s fair to say the learning curve will be as steep for him as it will be for Stroll.

Perez, on the other hand, took a podium as he finished third in the 2016 Monaco GP and while repeating that may be a tough ask, it’s expected that Force India should consolidate their top-four spot on May 28, especially as Fernando Alonso will not be charging hard in the McLaren on the only track where they could pose a real threat for the foreseeable future.

All eyes will be on this fascinating battle after Monaco, as teams scrabble to implement further upgrades for the Canadian race. Williams updated its aerodynamics and chassis last season and the same could happen in June, and again, the long straights should suit the FW40s.

But Force India, with a 32-point advantage over fifth-place constructor Renault, have little to worry about for now.

The team may have clocked up a suspended €25,000 fine for improper display of numbers after the Spanish GP, but Force India’s problems seems incomparable to those that rivals Renault, Williams and Toro Rosso are facing in that battle for midfield supremacy.

Do you think Williams will recover or is Force India untouchable at the top of the midfield? Have your say in the comment section below or on JA on F1’s Facebook.



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Force India have shown the benefit of running the best drivers available, as opposed to the richest. Williams are paying the price for taking the Stroll gold and releasing Bottas to Mercedes for even more gold! Will their chmapionship position suffer enough to off set all that dosh? Probably not as the difference in prize money between fourth and sixth is not that huge, but the reputational damage can't be so easily quantified. I remain very disappointed with a team I supported in my youth.


Well put. The same argument holds for Palmer. Whats worse is that Renault have kept him on for multiple years ? So I would expect Claire will not back down anytime soon.

What I find most disappointing is that she thinks we are all dumb.


I agree I would have defended stroll up until last weekend when I saw him live, he was always changing lines on the corners which is why he lost a minute to massa, I think if you swapped the drivers between the the forceindia and Williams teams the teams positions would have switched


Swiss Matt, yes I think Force India are showing the benefit of running the two best drivers available, Occon and Perez would rip it up in that Williams!


you are right. i wonder where that williams might be placed if someone like perez or bottas was driving it right now. considering that massa was constantly off the pace last year and stroll cannot be counted upon right now.... that williams shud be getting 5-6 place consistently. they seem to have the car for it. an experienced proven driver is all the difference. just look at hulkenberg and palmer . haas has done well too by getting tow experienced campaigners in magnussen and grosjean, although neither of them are shining a lot at the moment.


srikanth, Haas and Force India both have good driver lineups, and are both benefitting from it. Massa has scored 18 points so far this season and Sauber scored 6 points with Wehrlein in Barcelona, if he can keep delivering those kind of performances Williams could be in even deeper trouble!


I agree, very questionable call by Claire Williams. I'm not criticizing because the decision seems wrong, I am because it clearly shows a non-racing mentality and it is just gambling - hoping that Stroll comes good.

Surely they knew how good or bad he was when he tested all of one year.

Very disappointing for a team that use to be all about pure racing. The stock market listing is taking priority.


Nravi, yes the won at all costs mentality has been replaced by a need for profit. Force India are showing them up!


To criticise Claire Williams for taking on a rookie with backing is fair enough I suppose, but you never know what will happen when a new driver arrives. Stoffel was supposedly the real deal wasn't he but he's not exactly causing Fernando any sleepless nights if he?


Put Stoffel in the Williams and then tell me what you think.


f1rob, I just don't think a team like Williams should even have been considering him. He should be at Sauber, or his Dad should have bought Manor for him.


Its is interesting that Stoffel has struggled as much as he has. I was one of those expecting him to push Alonso and he has hardly been within touching distance of him all season.
Maybe James could delve into the reasons for his struggles with an article as not much has been said about this lopsided intra-team battle of the two Mclarens.


Sars, that was certainly a bone headed move on Massa on Sunday, difficult to judge performance levels on that car though, it seems to have phases when it is quick, and other times it's nowhere.


The car seemed quick out of the box in Melbourne and neither here nor there since. Massa has shown it has a quick one lap pace however in race trim it seems to be sluggish in its change of direction.
I can't help but think if Williams had a top tier pilot behind the wheel it could well be challenging the Bulls for the mid level points consistently.
I believe one thing we can agree on is that Claire has erred by having the driver combination she has. A veteran that knows that this is his swansong and is trying to cause carnage at every opportunity and a rookie who couldn't possibly be any greener doing his best to show why having zero experience is a recipe for disaster.

Richard Mortimer

Williams are definitely paying the price for a having a young rookie and letting Bottas go. Massa looks feisty this year, but, hasn't the past few years. I hoped Williams might get Button.

As for the rest of the year, things can switch round. I am actually impressed with Stroll. There have been glimpses of what he can do, he's just not really had the chance. As a driver, not knowing why you are losing somewhere can cause doubts, especially when you are in new machinery / environment / formula. Stroll needs to know why his pace dropped off so drastically.

But, I think, it could be Williams stringing the results together now.


what price, i'm sure its in the contract that all repair bills to be emailed to stroll snr, and all lost points will carry penalty invoices to compensate for the lost championship money.

Richard Mortimer

That's a very small cost (and one Stroll snr would gladly pay perhaps). The real cost is the lost points. You can't buy those.

With Bottas (previous years and especially last year says) they would have more points. With Button they would probably have more points. Although, Massa does look good this year, so I could be wrong.


Good comment
My thoughts exactly
Williams F1 are just an ongoing disappointment- in my eyes even more so than 'McHonda'


thats no true, not more than McHonda.


I'm still not convinced by the pink livery, it looks like an automotive piece of spam* on wheels. Still, it's not slowing Force India down!

*Spam, a canned cooked pork mush which was popular after the war because it was cheap and hearty, and was a favourite snack of post war drivers such as Jack Brabham, Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss despite (or because of?) it's horrendous fat content and horrible taste.


@Gaz Boy

It was so terrible that the only way i got over it was to imagine its made of some interesting kind of strawberry ice cream great for the palate, hopefully with surprise chunky bits of fruit hidden inside for added texture! 😀


You're eating it wrong! You have to slice it up, pan fry then eat it with sweet chilli sauce.


Sweet Chilli Sauce you say!! heebie-jeebies in a fun experimental sort of way 😀


It's the colour of Money and that is why they love it!


Gaz Boy thanks for that! very appetizing!


I think 4th is pretty much guaranteed for Force India now. Ocon currently appears to be light-years ahead of his Williams equivalent. Thus I can see no reason why Force India won't continue to extend their advantage over their rivals in the WCC for the foreseeable future.

It doesn't hurt that they also seem to have a knack for capitalising on races with high attrition rates. On pace, they ought to have finished 7th and 8th yesterday (Ricciardo really ought to have finished 6th himself while I'm on the subject). Instead, they managed to capitalise on the failures ahead and amazingly score more points yesterday than any of their rivals have currently accumulated during the first FIVE races of this season!

But it looks like Perez has his eye on something bigger this year. He's been there and done it with 4th in the WCC and 7th in the WDC. I think, if you look carefully, you could just about make out a glimmer of scarlet in his eyes. I don't think anyone really believes Kimi has another championship in him; I'd like to see Sainz or Perez there next year.


I second that! Sainz or Perez to Ferrari !!


is that scarlet or silver? I think I would rather have Perez driving for my team than Bottas.
Sergio has been around long enough to take some of the rough edges off now and is a much more mature driver than say 3 years ago.


Kimi not be signed?
I hope you are wrong on this.
Have a heart people!


Kimi is a changed man.. here he is HUGGING a JOURNO 😀 😀


Fatherhood does that
Ice cream not priority
His heart has melted


@ Sebee.....Iceman exposed as urban myth

By market needing soft and cuddly feeling

That Finns are really human too.


now all kids are gonna be crying after the starts and lining up for some team hospitality, this could turn into the new driver popularity contest, who can make the most kids cry when they retire, i rate Max will win this 1, next time he retires some adults might cry too...

But good 1 for F1 after the exit of Mr.E...


I might be 70 but I'll still cry if it means I can meet Lewis or Jenson in Monaco......


I guess it depends on whether Barcelona was just a glitch for Williams, or whether they really do have a driver talent deficit to Force India. Only time will tell, but this was a shocking result for Williams, running neck-and-neck with a slightly improved McLaren for much of the race.

Ricciardo Aficionado

They really do have a driver talent deficiency to Force India. Perez is seriously good and "one of" the next in line to drive at a big team. Merc would have taken him if he wasn't signed and yet wanted to upset Hamilton.
Ocon is doing very well and sure ain't embarrassing himself like Stroll.
Massa was once quick but his journey got stuck behind the Kimi and Michael show. Kinda like Kimi, his best days are past.


@Steve Rogers- While the best difference a driver can over drive a F1 car is getting that 2 tenths extra maximum, the maximum difference a driver could factor in is by under driving it by menyy menyy seconds 😀


I'm not sure "driver talent" describes Massa and Stroll.

I do like Massa and he can be fast, but he also knows that this is just an encore so - with respect to him - I suspect it's a case of "thanks for the cash and the chance to go for another spin" and then see you later.

As for Stroll, this by James sums it up for me: "What’s reassuring for Stroll is that his fastest lap was just over 0.3s slower than Massa’s and he wasn’t completely off the pace on soft tyres."

I think James was trying to sound positive, but, strip away the niceness and what you get is "slower than his teammate and off the pace" - Hardly reassuring.

Williams need to find themselves someone who can bring in the points, but easier said than done.


Personally I do not believe Williams will recover this season with their driver choices predicated on a cash infusion from the Stroll family. They have made their bed and now have to lie in it. Force India untouchable in fourth is an exciting prospect, I recall Esteban commenting in an interview his goal for the season is to score points at every race. What a difference in driver choices for the two teams, unquestionably, to me at least, they have the superior pairing. I think Williams probably have the stronger car and team, with De Beer and Lowe making the big buck decisions. Compared to the fiesty group at Force India who some how manage to make great decisions, no doubt more focused with their limited budget. I'm definitely in the Force India cheering section to beat Williams and Renault this year. Untouchable, it's a long season, as long as they beat Williams, and Cyril at Renault ends the season with egg on his face, after all the smack he was talking at the beginning of the season about Renault's superior development capabilities and Force India hangs onto fourth in the WCC, I don't care what you call it.


Williams will not retain fourth, they will not even get fifth if they intend to race the whole season with only one driver. This is the second race in a row that Massa has suffered some kind of damage, had to make an extra stop and then driven back up to and past Stroll. Second race in a row when Stroll has effectively been given a free lap on his team mate and been unable to stay in front of him. Measured against Felipe's well known pace and consistency, all questions about Lance Stroll have been answered. Except perhaps the financial questions, at one point does his lack of speed render the financial input of his father moot? Fourth to sixth (or even seventh) will equate to a substantial drop in prize money, if that happens will Lawrence make up the difference? At what point does Lance's under performance become intolerable to Williams?


Correction: "Massa’s downfall started ..." when he got the radio message "Fernando is faster than you!"
Massa already went on pension once and I wish he would have stayed there. He used to be a very sympathetic guy while now is like he is just an angry old man. Massa is clearly an outstanding pair of experienced hands compared to his teammate. But don't know how much that is saying when that teammate is named Stroll? The Williams is clearly a great car this year, as witnessed they do very well in qualifications race after race. And both Force Indias qualify behind. But come race day, the Williams are loosing out for various reasons while both Force Indias barge forward with clever consistent performance, ending ahead of the Williams. Maybe Massa should start to focus more on getting the race job done instead of all his inappropriate gesturing with his fingers.


If it wasn't for Vijay, I'd be happy for them...


Do u even know what VIjay did. like seriously, u have no clue. he did not cheat people. so pls read clearly before you talk.


Don't let Vijay's actions/decisions reflect on the good work that the team is doing.

It's not their fault if he's been naughty, so ahead and be happy for them 🙂


Did Vijay steal money from u too? Can't u at least imagine that it's still the old spyker team that once permanently occupied grid slots 23 and 24 and is now scoring points consistently...


Some of us Are happy for them despite VJM. . hopefully he'll face the music and the team will go on to bigger and better things. .


As an Indian, its quite disappointing that the only indian owned F1 team is sponsored by not one, but two slimebag "business" "men". The Sahara group head is in jail for trying to fool the securities regulator, and VJM as we all know flew his airline into the ground. Businesses will fail. Whats disappointing is that VJM paid off all foreign employees, but diddled his Indian employees out of their dues. He then illegally transfers money to his kids to keep it out of the creditors hands.
Weep my country


agreed. That force India has very little India in it apart from two corrupt heads and the name.

Fulveo Ballabeo

"...there are still questions around Stroll"

Understatement of the year.

Williams took the guaranteed money by cashing the Stroll check. Rather than roll the dice on the riskier proposition of securing 4th in the championship (and the prize money that goes with it).

And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But enough of the charade, and let's call it what it is.

Imagine where a talent like Grosjean, Sainz, Ocon, or Vandoorne would have the Williams. A tantalizing prospect.


Agree. but Vandoorne has been equally disappointing this season.


...there are still questions around Stroll

@ Fulveo-

OVER-statement of the year 😉

Common sense always predicted, there was never a doubt that moving up to F1 in the way he did and expecting to be any good at it, was pure wish full thinking.

So what MORE Questions? there are no questions, there NEVER was. No one really believed he would be good, all he had to do was defy all logic and come out brilliant.


Massa blew that race big time. There was no need for him to punt Alonso into the gravel and risk his car.

He was effectively past the Kimi/Max mess that Bottas caused so didn't need any evasive action. Not sure if he would put it down to panic or whether he was trying to make Fernando lift by running him wide. He was running behind the Red Bull after his start and on for a load of good points, plus he would have out powered the Honda no problem whislt leaving room.

I have absolutely no idea where the Williams cars sit over a race distance, and that's due to questions about the consistency of the drivers.


Force India is showing what you can do with a limited budget, good engineering and two kicka$$ drivers !!


This is obviously not the start to the season Williams wanted. And young Lance is clearly struggling but could very easily turn his performances around. Paddy Lowe and Claire Williams are no doubt building for the future and Lance can be a part of that future.
Force India are just such a great team and were it not for the association to Dr Mallya could half been bought up by now at a reduced price of course.
Driver wise I will be amazed if Checco isn't in Ferrari Red next year.


How's the weather up,in Canada?
By the way, has Lance ever lived in Canada or has he always lived in Switzerland? I think Lance is as Canadian as Nico Rosberg is German.


I doubt Lance has a future in F1 without his father's money. He hasn't shown much and if you put him against Verstappen, Ocon and others his lack of refined skills are evident. Wish him luck...


If Force India stay in 4th place, they get to sit on the Strategy Group next year. That could prove interesting. I feel somewhat sorry for Williams, they will be totally reliant on Filip Massa getting them regular points this year, as it appears Stroll isn't up to the job. Will they been looking for one or two new drivers next year? It could prove doubly difficult as the 2018 car will have been designed under Paddy Lowe, who's reputation is dropping every season.


Force India could sit in the Strategy Group next season. Rumors circulate that the team might be rebranded as Brabham under a sale to Bernie. Just when you thought we were shut of him. Oh dear! Can you spell "revenge".


@Graham - the little man would be very lonely if he bought Force India, I can't see any of the other teams siding with him - ever. He's lost his dictatorship and the many he upset when he was ruining the show, would relish the opportunity to put him in his place.


why is paddy lowe's reputation dropping ?


@srikanth - who do you think was responsible for this year's Mercedes, which isn't exactly setting the F1 world on fire? Prior to that, how many McLaren championship winning cars did he design?


i dunno man. he's no newey, sure, but he's been part of many teams who had strong cars while he was working with them. the williams in the early 90's. the mclaren of 98-99. the mclarens of 2004 and 05 were very fast. unreliable, yes, but very fast. the 2007-08 mclaren was the fastest and then the mercedes of the last three years. the mercedes of this year is still amongst two of the fastest teams in f1 right now. so either paddy lowe was lucky to be in the right teams at the right time or he has something to do with all of them.

Garrett Bruce

How does this "action/approach" benefit the "sport?"

Stephen Taylor

James I think Force India will beat Williams this year because Force have two reliable drivers who have proven can score points . I would not be very surprised if Ocon and Perez both got into the Monaco points despite the steep learning curve for Ocon. I can't see Stroll getting points unless half the field puts it in the Monte Carlo barriers or blows an engine. In fact I can see Lance out in Q1 again in Monaco . Renault seem to be in similar situation at the moment too because Palmer's poor performance. It is mentioned that the fact that Stroll best lap in the race was within 0.3 of Massa and that should provide encouragement -well I think the fact Massa finished 11.5 seconds ahead of Stroll despite being 50 seconds down on him after an extra stop - showing his overall race craft and race pace is still pretty poor and not something to be encouraged by.


I think it's great and only increases Perez's and Ocon's stock. I'd love to see Force India taking it to RedBull


Williams have unquestionably the weakest driver lineup in the pitlane and it has come back to bite them. They won't recover.

James not Allen

You need to improve your Ron Speak. You might try taking some notes from Sniff Petrol...


FI are ever impressive, well done them...
It's a woeful site seeing Williams in this state; looks like Stroll is not on the level required and Massa despite his quality has never been accused of being lucky. If you put Ham or Vet in that car it'd be up there regularly, must be hard on the team seeing their work floundering. They have a big decision re drivers next year, maybe a double replacement.


Force India are proof (if it was needed) why teams should pick TWO good drivers. Picking Ocon to pair up with Perez is proving to be a master-stroke. As for Williams, I fear for them.


Williams has the car but lacks the drivers. Fourth will probably be a battle between toro rossa versus force india, as those two teams have the better driver pairings. But it a fascinating battle as Renault and Williams will probably have car advantage over course of season.


If there was ever a team where drivers make the difference in results, it's Force India. And Perez deserves a top drive. I'd have him in the same frame as Vettel or Hamilton next year for sure. He won't be a number 2 driver to anyone. Hopefully, Force India sticks around like Sauber has in F1 for decades to come.


Well said. I agree, FI lineup is really impressive. The duo, Perez and Ocon push each other getting results outdriving a car that is not too great. At least one of them is a champion material. I wish I know more about the relation dynamics between the two drivers.


I admire the way Force India go racing. They always get the best drivers they can afford, rather than who can bring the biggest briefcase of cash, and it shows in the results. Hulkenberg has shown once and for all just how ordinary Palmer is, and Williams have made a massive blunder in accepting Stroll senior's money. I don't see either Renault or Williams beating Force India this season. It's just too much for Hulk and Massa to do on their own. Toro Rosso really should be up there with FI, but their season has been not so good so far. I'd love to see Sainz replace Palmer by the end of this year.

Tornillo Amarillo

James, Lance has just completed 2 races!
He has plenty of time, I would say 2 years, money is not the problem. There would be some options there.
Lance is just learning, so expect he gets experience, not points right away to fight in the midfield with PEREZ, HULK, SAINZ, ALONSO... it sounds ridiculous, or to match Massa. Maybe in few races he could get P10 or P9, like Ocon got before.

I would be more worry about Palmer, Kvyat, Ericsson, Kmag, Vandoorne, even Grosjean...

The missing point is that the Midfield is EXTENDED to the bottom of the grid, there are not 4 teams really there, but now with Sauber up there and every team sometimes closing times, you get 7 midfield teams!
It's not Lance that could win this fight now, isn't it?


These new cars look far beyond Lance's pay grade, like a jockey that can't hang on to his horse. And it's basic skills like slowing the car down.

Tornillo Amarillo

What if a team like Williams offer you a seat to learn? You have earned the Super license, remember, you are allow to drive, there is money involved...
Does someone think that Williams didn't know or wasn't smart enough when hiring kid Lance?
And please, there are only 10 teams in F1, I don't think Williams is blocking other "talented" driver out there, he bought his seat, everybody has to live with what other people do...
I think the real point is that maybe we need AT LEAST 3 more teams (6 more drivers) in F1, doesn't it?


There was a time when a driver still 'learning' this far into a season would already be out on his ear...

I actually think Massa has been driving relatively well - this weekend excepted - but there is a chasm of performance between the two, when Williams is historically capable of producing equipment to a similar standard.

Usually a rookie driver has the speed and makes mistakes - which is OK, because the speed is there and the mistakes can be minimised with experience. However when you have a driver that has no speed and no mistakes, well ... Webber was right when he said that F1 isn't a finishing school.

Tornillo Amarillo


Look Editor, with 80 points as a Team last year you could get P5 in the WDC. Williams was P5, and then McLaren P6 with 76 points.
Massa got already 18 points in 2017 in 5 races.
What does he need to get 62 more points in the next 15 races?
Average finishing P7 (6 points) in 10 races. No need to score in 5 of the remaining races.
Kid Lance (2 fans only in this website) could score the last 2 points 🙂 (1 point per fan).

Go Williams and Lance!


HAHA Every time i read Tornillo's undying support for his rookie favorite underdog, i regret posting my comments further above raving and ranting that the pinnacle of motor sport should have better prepared drivers. But I stand by it, its not good for the image.

@Tornillo.. who is the other fan ? 😀

Tornillo Amarillo

Someone shy 🙂


As stated numerous times on these pages, FIndia has the best euro-for-euro driver line up on the grid, by a substantial margin, and it is showing, good!
So far, the rookie star of the year 2017 is Ocon; but those who have followed his career, are NOT surprised.
I'm a big fan of Checko, but if I'm Ferrari, I like what I'm seeing in Ocon, if I want to change one of my drivers.
I expect a late season spec-B at Williams, reflecting new developmental philosophy of Paddy, as platform moving forward for 2018.


Force India has fourth for the season, I expect. They have overall consistency the teams below them lack. They are banging home double points finishes despite poor mouthing their own package. Williams, Haas, and Renault may (emphasis "may") have cars ultimately more impressive to the stopwatch, but can't get both going well at the same time. Haas still has confidence-sapping brake problems. Renault (and thus STR) still doesn't have the PU at its best spec, and Palmer is still on a steep learning curve. He'll improve, as will Stroll at Williams, but not enough to overcome the gap to FI this season. I don't see a lengthy string of double DNFs by FI, and that's what the others need, along with double points finishes of their own. When FI finishes, they finish in the points, and nothing indicates that they won't continue to do so.


@ Rudy we all know FI is up for sale by the embattled mallya. I listened to Brundle's comments to bernie on the grid when he asked him if he was going to buy the team and get together with young Brabham and re launch the team as "Brabham F1'...which as we all know was Bernie's team back awhile! Sounds good to me and if so at least it would have better finances.


@ Rudy Pyatt...Your response just landed in my inbox. You raise an issue that i hadn't considered. I do think that it would be good for the competition to have another American team on the grid and Penske or Andretti would be great addition. To carry this even further what if the Alonso entry to the Indy 500 was precursor to an American entry into F 1 via the Force India aquisition, Alonso could then take over as lead driver alongside American Rossi as team mate. Sounds like a workable strategy with Ecclestone as the Chairman bringing vast amounts of $$$ and with Brabham as team principal. Could be quite exciting. The new team known and Brabham Penske racing would be a formidable act.


Mind you, Kenneth, the team I would most like to see return? BRM... The most impressive F1 car I've yet seen in person was the BRM P160 at the 2002 and 2003 historic demo at the USGP. All the V10s in the field for the actual race? Bah. That BRM V12... NOTHING sounded better. Next year, I've gotta get to Goodwood!


That would be spectacular, with all manner of full-circle irony! It's a turn-key operation for BE and would keep him in the game.

Mind you, Roger Penske could easily afford it as well, but The Captain wouldn't do it without a compelling business case. With Liberty/FOG seeking to raise F1's profile by interacting with other series (only today, Ross Brawn met with MotoGP officials to discuss minimizing calendar conflicts with F1; Alonso's Indy venture we know about), that could provide an opening for Penske (or Ganassi, Andretti, or Hendrick, to name three other pedigree American teams) to join the grid.

I guess it depends on what kind of bargain Vijay Mallya wants to drive; how badly Bernie wants to stay in the game; and whether or not Liberty wants to encourage new ownership from outside the traditional F1 pirrahna club.


Even if the "leaked" F1 money payout distribution by Autosport is to be believed (image attached), I do not see much of a difference between 4th and 6th place in the constructors championship.

A few million yes (even though its complex based on multiple years before.. still Williams does not get any CCB like the 4 top teams, so around 6 millions less they will make?) , but nowhere close to the amount Stroll's Family is probably pumping in??

Does anyone have a rough idea about how much Money the Strolls are pumping into the team for them to stroll over and drive a racing car for fun? But then I am not sure if he only bought ownership shares and does not add "sponsorship" funds. In which case that 6 million could pinch.

Anyone with much idea?

Also It gets a bit allergic when for two races in a row that martini wave comes along to dull the chance for a closer finish. Seriously when getting lapped, (for whatever reasons they may have ended up so far down) they do not show the basic respect for racing like the traditional back markers do by backing right off so as not to interfere with the lead battle.

They seem to have no sense of drama ! Just taking the joy out of nail biting ends. Kill joys !! 🙂

Tornillo Amarillo

Good point, maybe Dad Stroll could pay for the difference between P4 and P Williams really got. Speculations, speculations, free speculations...

I insist a businessman on top of the world won't pay 18 years of motorsports career for his son, have a business plan for F1 and give up after 2 full races... Media should stop this nonsense.

There are many other interesting topics for the media and fans that deserve be investigated :
- Mercedes consulting to Honda...
- Red Bull giving up or in real crisis
- Ricciardo's performance
- How to close the gap between the 2 frontrunners and the other teams
- Why Marko speak out about Carlos Sainz' father


Thx @Nomad, Appear that KMag was a very profitable driver then for Renault last year! They paid him less than $1M in salary, while he gave them 20+ times more back in return with the points money he scored for them. Would be interesting to see this break down by driver on the grid!


@Cyber - Holy Cow you are right! :O


You get what you sow and Williams are certainly finding that out this season.
Stroll isn't merely inexperienced but clearly inept behind the wheel of these cars and Massa is right when he says he'll struggle at Monaco. We saw Verstappen struggle in his first two races there and considering how much more talent has he has to Stroll in comparison I think he's a short price to have a DNF.
Which is a shame really as I think they have the fourth best car on the grid. We'll probably never know for sure as we have an ageing veteran and a kid that should be at every race as a spectator not a driver.


Nobody saw Perez, Ocon and Hulkenberg's race.
I could easily watch the midfield battle of every race again on the F1 off weekends.
But there is no TV camera on them - live.
F1 could edit their race as the camera keeps rolling, recording the midfield cars passing by and - when not - move to in car cameras. Its just not Live on TV.
I only noticed there was a nice 3 car battle there bcs of the time gaps.
Intead, they prefered the local boy Carlitos Sainz vs Magnussen.
Ocon and Wehrlein impressing me a lot.
I wouldn't be surprised w/ Perez to Ferrari or Hass and Ocon to Williams or any Merc Powered team.


Bob Fernly should get a Knighthood. Frank couldn't even see the value of Newey and let him go.


Frank and Patrick have let many world class talents leave their team through the ages, from engineers, designers to drivers. Maybe something they could 'afford' through the 80-90ties when they themselves were worldclass and everybody wanted to work for them. Success grows success. They used to promote themselves as a pure racing team, but then they went commercial and that's a very different animal...


Williams are as good as Force India, if not better. They are paying the price for signing a rookie who cannot even come close to Massa on pace. I would say signing Susie Wolff would have been a better choice. The Renault PU might be coming good by summer and I think Williams are going to end the season 7th.


The irony is that Toto could have afforded to buy her the drive as I noted that on the recent Sunday Times rich list the Wolffs are worth £250 million - Toto is richer than Lewis!

Craig in Manila

Williams :

They sign one driver who barely deserves to be in the car
They retire then re-sign another driver
They release a perfectly good driver to a competing team
They have money coming in from F1 Heritage payments regardless of results
They have money coming in from Papa Stroll payments regardless of results

There is certainly no particular pressure on them to be competitive and, judging by some of their decisions, it doesn't even seem that they care if they are or they aren't.

How long would they tolerate Stroll if he cannot improve ? 5 years ? 10 ?

What's the plan for 2018 re Massa ? He goes around again ?
Or does Williams seriously think that they can attract a decent driver to replace him ?


@ Craig...I should think that having Paddy Lowe as a part owner, albeit a minority shareholder, that he might have a few questions on where the Williams future lies. I followed this team from inception up until Mark Webber left and since then it's been all downhill. Williams got too big for their boots and they treated their drivers badly. They demonstrated that with Nigel Mansell and again with Mark Webber. They are a mere shadow of their former selves mainly because they made very bad business decisions amongst other things. I have no sympathy for them as a team. They cried poor yet FW sat on a pile estimated at $150+million without putting his hand in his pocket at any stage!. FW did sell his private jet and Patrick sold his helicopter so that was something i suppose but defiinitely not enough. Yes, i would like to see a resurgent Williams for the sake of better and closer racing but i don't see how they will do it. That's [F1] life.


williams will improve once paddy lowe is bedded-in and those extra dollars that stroll brings will make a difference. the car looks under done on the aero front and needs more downforce. i think williams should grab alonso for '18.


So great to see a small team such as force India performing a fair way above their weight. They have two very capable drivers and obviously a fine team of engineers to provide them with 2 solid cars. I hope that sponsors will recognize that and give them the means to go hunting Red Bull. Perez is by now a proven asset to any team that will employ him and Ocon is surely appearing on a few team principals' radar. Williams is a very sad story to me. A team with so much history. Hope that their future will prove better for them. Marc


How much does a new chassis cost? I can see Stroll needing a few car rebuilds at Monaco. He'll either keep hitting the barriers trying to find speed or go so slow avoiding them that he'll be at the back of the grid. At what point does the cost of car repairs and lost championship points erase daddy's money? As a public listed company Williams have to publish their finances but I'm not sure to the level we could see how much Stroll costs?

Yes, he's a rookie and still learning but I think it's clear by now he just doesn't have enough talent for F1. I seriously doubt he'll ever win a race (barring extreme circumstances) never mind be able to compete for world championships. All rookies make mistakes when they're learning but it's always obvious very quickly when they have the talent to make it.


And this is a surprise to anyway. Williams have the worst line up on the grid, and a chassis that is getting worse by the year. They seem to going back to the bad old days of 2012 chassis wise.

Bluntly, Massa is past it and Stroll doesn't have it. To think Clare Williams chose these two while Vergne, Algesuari, Kobayashi et al are on the sidelines.


Off topic question;

Was Bernie serious when I heard Brundle talk to him about acquiring Force India and rebranding them as Brabham?


No smoke without fire, as they say. Bernie could easily afford to buy a majority shareholding, and it might make thing easier for VJ. Not sure about the Brabham name though.


As I have mentioned below in my reply to Kenneth Cashpoor, Bernie seemed a rather forlorn and lonely individual when seen on the grid in Barcelona so maybe its just an attention seeking effort on his part.
Would be nice though to see if its merely talk or whether there is any substance to it.


@ Sars...let's hope so. I heard that as well and thought, what a great idea. However i doubt whether Mallya will get anywhere near what he's apparently asking....US$250M seems like disneyland to me.


I think it could be a case of Bernie saying these things just to gather the attention. Since he sold his stake to Liberty he's become more and more yesterdays man and that's surely something Bernie has never had to deal with, certainly not in the past thirty five years or so anyway.
The fact James hasn't had anything on it on his site suggests, at this point, its merely noise.
Good idea though if BE supplies the finds for the acquisition, not so if that means he makes waves and friction in the process.


@ Sars...Yes, he must wonder what to do with himself these days!!!! I'd be pretty certain that Bernie can always find ways and means to remain active. Having a charming young wife to entertain would keep him on his toes. No matter what people think about him he certainly has a level of drive and knowledge that if channelled correctly could be of great assistance to a team seeking to advance further up the ladder. I have a great deal of respect for BE based mainly on what he has achieved over his lifetime. He may have been divisive, single minded and overly protective of his domain to the detriment of progress....but a canny businessman above all. People are heaping praise on Liberty for their supposed relaxed approach to many things but does that improve the racing? I think not, as yet anyway. The acid test is when tell us just what they are planning for the future. They need to break the stranglehold currently held by the manufacturers amongst other things and then we may get to see what they are made of. I am not yet ready to endorse Liberty as the 'knights on white chargers' as i prefer to see the offer first. We shouldn't have to wait for another three years for that to happen.


There are a number of drivers on the grid who don't really deserve to be there.

Stroll, Palmer, Ericsson, Magnussen, Kvyat and maybe Vandoorne (?).

Unfortunately for a lot of these drivers, the vertical learning curve displayed by Max last year has set an impossible high standard for everyone. Wtih Stoff there are still some question marks since the car is very unreliable. But you have to question when Fernando qualifies 7th while Stoff is 19th.

Stroll, Palmer, Kvyat and Magnussen are the ones you know will never set the stage on fire so better get someone else in those seats. Unfortunately in Willams case, Stroll Snr provides a lot of their team funding so it's not like they have any choices.


I am hugely impressed with Force India this season and just when I think they cannot do any better (Russia) they go and prove me wrong. Simply, they are the only team so far that has not left anything on the plate in any of the five races so far. Immaculate driving from both drivers and excellent execution from the team and even when mistakes happen (long stop for Perez in Spain) they bear no influence on the result. Perez is probably the most underrated driver of recent times and Ocon must be very special indeed to consistently be just behind.

Renault and Williams will struggle to stay close to FI in the championship as they are effectively racing with a single car each and, as proven by Williams in the last two races, it is easy and possibly inevitable to get in trouble from time to time when you have only one car racing. For me Palmer's performances so far have been at least as disappointing if not even more than Stroll's. In his second season, he ought to be closer to Hulk. Vandoorne has not exactly proven the hype either but let's give him benefit of doubt on basis that it's difficult to learn anything useful in a car with so many problems as his.


@ DC...whilst i'm sure that Palmer is a decent driver i somehow feel as though he's out of his depth. He is unimpressive and there is something in his demeanour that i find hard to come to grips with. When he's interviewed he always seems to be gazing off into the distance looking for divine insight. That may be harsh but everytime i see him do it i think...what's he doing here? Maybe he's asking himself the very same question.


Paul DiResta might find himself driving on Sunday in Monaco, if Williams can repair the car in time after Strolls crash/crashes on Friday and Saturday.


Thursday and Saturday actually, being Monaco. Stroll's $$$ will keep his seat warm and dry.


Think Williams will be bringing an extra lorry full of spare parts this weekend?


As so many have said, full marks to FIndia for their efficiency as well as choosing good drivers - both consistently scoring points. Williams i fear are wasting a rather good car with a weaker driver line-up - or more precisely only scoring with one driver. And as much as I have been a fan of Felipe he is past his best. Williams took a gamble with Stroll for the sake of money - I don't think it will work out as Stroll is no Verstappen, and at best nearly as good as Guttierez!


I saw Maldonado at Barcelona and i immediately thought...what's he doing here? After all he's the last Williams driver to win a race!!!!!


Hi James, I like the heading of this write-up. I wonder if anybody else picked up on the humour. As for fine, were the teams aware of the consequences of not complying with the new rule? ...Or did Fourth India weigh implementing cost vs paying the fine and decided on the latter? I personally think that changing the rules mid season negatively impacts the teams financially especially smaller teams.


It's not that force india are that good it's just Williams & Renault are bad. What people are missing is their has been major regulation, technical churning in both teams. It'll take some time to get both teams stable.
As for lance It's easy to attack new guy but he's been here for short while. I'll give him 2 more races to show his ability,to say he was rushed too soon is pointless now. Anyway I like the fact Williams have accepted the fact lance is on grid because of them they are taking responsibility for their decision and not scapegoating him.
I feel legal troubles of Sahara & Vijay had helped FI as both are control freaks who have run every operation they've been involved in to ground. This enforced hands-off approach is what's driving their success. I really want force india to be bought by a responsible organisation who can take them forward. As for Williams next year should bring results if not Claire should move on.


The Spanish GP was not a good set up for Williams. Temperature differences between practice/qualifying days and race day proved to add to their set up woes.

Massa was expected to set up the car as his teammates' inexperience could hardly add further insight into set up. The result was a one off in my opinion.

So will the team recover? Well as long as people believe that a team like Williams can continue to afford to "write off " one of their drivers performance due to " learning experience " ( or the lack there of), then no the team will not recover.

Force India has two good racers - Ocon and Perez. Williams has a team principal in denial, that somehow Mr. Stroll will "evolve" in F1 as a dominant figure...... rubbish.


Would it be very difficult to quote the speed also in kph?


say all you want about Stroll, this kid has got cajones - stick yourself in that situation, blasting down the straight to turn one, cars literally everywhere - midfield runners have often got to deal with mega traffic - pay driver or not, respect is due.

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