2007 Review: Williams

November 11, 2007 at 7:45 am Leave a comment

This is the fifth in F1-Pitlane’s multi-part season review of each constructor. Today we look at Willaims who have fallen a long way in the last decade. The question is will they rise again?

The car

A decade ago the Williams team were double world champions led by the irascible Jacques Villeneuve. To say the team has gone through a barren spell is a gross understatement. A partnership with BMW looked at one point to have rekindled the glory days but the German engine supplier wanted a larger say in running the team, which Frank Williams was not prepared to give, so BMW bolted into the grateful arms of Sauber. Last year Williams ran Cosworth engines, when quite frankly, not taking part in any races at all may have been preferable.

This years marks a fresh start as the car is now powered by Toyota engines in a deal that saw Toyota get access to Williams’ seamless shift gearbox. The team performed admirably, proving that the Toyota engine is actually half decent. The biggest achievement was simply getting to the chequered flag. Only three times in 2007 did a Williams retire compared to 11 in 2006.

The drivers

If it wasn’t for one young Briton monopolising the pitlane chatter Nico Rosberg, Williams’ number one driver, would be receiving more of the plaudits. His performance in 2007 was astonishing as he comprehensively outraced his team mate Alex Wurz, who became so demotivated that he was forced into retirement before the end of the season.

Rosberg put in some gutsy performances, no more apparent (and controversial) than his efforts in the final GP of the season at Interlagos. He fended off the challenge of the BMWs to finish a gusty fourth. Although Rosberg was easily the better driver it was Wurz who had Williams’ best result of the year with a podium at Montreal.

The outlook

With the marriage of manufacturers to engine suppliers being a feature of F1 over the last 10 years, Williams have been left at the alter without a bride. This means that they are fighting squarely in the midfield and likely don’t have the financial resources to haul themselves back among the contenders.

Saying that their alliance with Toyota holds promise and with the ever stringent regulations engines are becoming a less defining feature of the car. The battleground these days is aerodynamics. That gives some hope but more than hope is required to catch the top three teams. Williams think they are ready to take a big step and have publicly declared their car “revolutionary” — Honda tried that last year and it only hastened their move to the back of the grid. Expect some progress next year but a couple of podiums is as good as it will get.


Entry filed under: Teams, Williams.

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