2012 Team Preview: Williams
CHANGING OF THE TIMES
WILLIAMS head to the Australian Grand Prix having not given anyone a lot of indication of where they stand in the 2012 field. In testing, they have set some cracking lap times and solid race simulation runs and other times, the car has barely featured. However, it won’t be hard to improve on last year’s disaster of a campaign.
It was Williams worst season since they became Williams Engineering in 1978. They only got into Q3 on three occasions, finished in the points just three times with ninth for Rubens Barrichello in Monaco being the best result and scored a meek total of five points. Their decline was a sad and sorry tale in 2011 for a team that has won nine constructors titles, 113 races and seven drivers championships. Despite this, there has been no success of any kind since Juan Pablo Montoya’s win in the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix and consequently, has led to loads of changes over the winter.
Technical director of almost a decade with the Grove team Sam Michael, has move onto a sporting role at McLaren. Although he will remain team principal, Sir Frank Williams has resigned from the board to spend more time with his family and promote commercial opportunities for the future and Patrick Head has left his role in the day-to-day involvement too. CEO Adam Parr and new technical director Mike Coughlan have a lot of responsibility and work to do to get them back to the glory days.
Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado keeps his seat for 2012 and although there are arguments about his high finance he brings, Maldonado did show some qualities last season, notably in Monaco. However, I don’t earmark him out as team leader and with just one point to his name in his debut campaign, must find more consistently and cut out some of the childish errors of judgement he made in 2011 such as driving into Lewis Hamilton in Q2 at Spa. Maldonado will be joined by Bruno Senna, who replaces the stalwart of Grand Prix racing, Rubens Barrichello. Not only that, but it brings the Senna name back to Williams, almost 18 years since his uncle Ayrton was killed driving for the team on that fateful weekend at Imola. Senna’s quality is unknown despite stints with Hispania and Renault in the last two years and maybe 2012 will show whether he is a future star or another Brazilian who is competing to bring up the numbers.
It is a new chapter for Williams and it has a fiery South American driver line-up. It is a long way back from the trials and tribulations of 2011 but we hope that they can rejoin the midfield party this season and on occasion, potentially cause upsets for the main powers of Formula One.