What About Williams?


Race Winner
Much has been said about the seats at Ferrari and Mclaren lately but what about the drives at Williams?

We have all been thrilled at the return to form that the Williams' cars have been able to find. At the hands of Maldonado it has won a race and has shown some very competitive pace. Many have argued that this is mainly due to the championship winning Renault power in the back of the car. Whilst the replacement of the Ford Cosworth engine has undoubtedly helped, the Williams package this season does look far better in many other aspects than last year.

Yet how good this Williams car is remains somewhat of a question mark. Whilst I am not Pastor's biggest fan due to his on track behaviour, there is no doubt that he has shown glimpses of electric pace. His team mate Senna, on the other hand, has been no where near this sort of podium/ race winning speed yet has accrued more points finishes than Maldonado - and I stress the word finishes! It is a classic example of outright pace vs consistency. Either way, Frank and the rest of the Williams team must be bemoaning the lack of points that they have accrued this season.

So where do Williams go in terms of their driver pairing next year? Maldonado is contracted for one seat next year, although this has not stopped Frank from showing the door to a driver before! Senna looks like he is on his way. Bottas is one of the favourites to get his or either of the seats.*

So will Williams stick with the pay-driver approach of this year or should they take a hit in terms of money to entice a top quality driver to challenge for a higher place on the board next year (which in the long term may pay dividends when they recieve constructors' money)?

Unlike last year, it looks like there are going to be some musical chairs for 2013. This will possibly make more drivers available than before so could they snare a more experienced driver like Hamilton (highly unlikely I know), Rosberg or Perez? With not many rule changes the cars will remain much the same, and with Williams' infrastructure they should be able to develop a car that could challenge for some serious points in the hands of a competent driver.

*I am not implying that Bottas will be a pay driver or that he is not going to be good enough
For me, there is one guy who has slipped under the radar for 3 seasons but who has been working hard to make a silk purse from a sows ear and would be the perfect fit at Williams. Step forward Heiki Kovalainen. He is out of contract with Caterham at the end of the season, has a bundle of experience and has shown he has pace even in a dog of a car.

For me, Senna has to go as I don't think he's got it and at least Maldo has won for the team so deserves another year. Maybe a driver with more experience can help to calm Pastor down.

I think Heikki deserves to step back up the ladder after doing a decent job at Caterham and giving it three years to see if the team can move forward. As looks likely, with the pace of advancement at the team, the best he can hope for next year is to maybe out qualify the TRs at best. I don't believe he'd want another year of that.
Heikki could be a good shout for Williams in terms of competence along with decent pace. I'd imagine he'd come relatively cheap too. Would he provide that X factor (Simon Cowell has ruined that term for me :( ) that Williams are perhaps looking for? That I doubt sadly. Dont' get me wrong Heikki is a very good driver but he hasn't set the world alight - you say decent job at Caterham CAT, not exactly eye catching is it?
By my signiture(and postings) I'm sure you are all aware that I'm of the strong belief that Senna should never be in that seat and that Bottas should have had his chance by now. How do I feel about next season? Whilst I'd love to see Bottas given a chance I would understand why they would go for someone with more experience.

I can't see Senna staying however much he's bringing in and even if he does up his form come end of season for the firm reason that to keep their massive funding from PDVSA they must have a Venezulan driver in one of the race seats. Whilst Maldo can only be a few major accidents away from Frank starting to have a chat with Johnny Ceccto Jr I think that means Maldo stays and whilst in an ideal world Bottas should slip right in next to him but I can see why they'd want to put a sure thing like Kovi in the seat too.

I can't see Rosberg coming back (he wouldn't do it) and I can't really see Frank going for Massa. Kobi might be an option if Sauber do something silly and chuck him out. I'm sure Sutil would put himself forward but I don't think he has the cred anymore. Petrov maybe but he's not proven it with results as much as Kovi.

The one thing that might go against the idea of a steady hand coming in though is how involved Bottas has been in the development of this Williams car. He has been their test driver for 3 years now. He's been in the simmulators day in day out and he's driven more Friday P1 sessions than any other driver - rumour has it this is done to help find the best set up for the car - putting someone like that who has shown speed as well as set up skill into the Williams could be something special.

I'd be sad for Bottas if Kovi got in but I'd understand why.

If however they decide to run Maldo and Senna again I say we march on the factory.
Boyle, that's the problem for Heikki though, he's out qualifying his team mate (and previous team mate) by around half a second or so at almost every race weekend. He remains (I stand to be corrected on this) the only one of the back 6 to get the car into Q2 and his finishing record is strong with very few mistakes. If he had been in a Williams these last three years I think he'd have scored a good few points and this season perhaps even it would have been his win and maybe a podium or two as well. All of his efforts are being missed though because he's knocking around at the back, out of sight and out of mind.
Fair point CAT but he hasn't really put Petrov in the shade this year. Maybe he is suffering from a lack of motivation at the moment as he more often than not finds himself being overtaken by faster cars and is so far ahead of the HRTs and Marussias that it isn't even challenging.
Get Adrian Sutil in. He wasn't half bad and he used to bring money along as well, although I suspect after his actions in China that may no longer be the case.

I also think Williams were wrong to get rid of Barrichello, he would have brought the car home in the points consistently and I'm not talking about the 9th and 10th places that Senna is managing. He shouldn't be ruled out.

Pastor should go, but won't. His oil money matters too much and he has potential even if he is a mad 'ed.
Another superb suggestion! Although given his recent misdemeanours I don't think Sutil will be that attractive to Williams greatest requirement - sponsors.
I've said it numerous times before over the last year or two and I'll make no apology for saying it again, even though I'm pretty sure it won't happen (although I got my hopes up a bit when he made a special point of going into the Williams garage to congratulate Sir Frank on his birthday):

Lewis Hamilton
Recently read that Williams turnover this year was £73 million and their half year profits were £6.6 million. I don't think they could afford Hamilton or afford to develop a car throughout the season anywhere near as well as the big 3 to compete for a title so I don't see Hamilton going there. Unless he takes Vodafone, Santander and Coca Cola with him.
It could, but why waste potential title winning years building up a team when you can win at an established one.

I'm 90% sure that the 2013 Williams pairing will be Maldonado/Senna with a 10% chance of Maldonado/Bottas.
Viscount I'm sure you're right about the odds on next year's Williams drivers.

But the whole tenet of my argument over the last 18 months or so is based on comparisons with Schumacher when he left Benetton, having won two titles with them, for a then struggling Ferrari team.
What if Hamilton were to overcome this year's difficulties to win another WDC title? Even if he didn't, what if he then moved from the team that had given him his first success to another great British racing team, former winners who had fallen on hard times but were showing recent signs of recovery? What if he became the last piece of the jigsaw in helping that team back to the top?

Surely that would be the stuff of dreams! Wouldn't that silence the critics, the doubters and the naysayers once and for all? What's mere money compared to that?
The fact is Williams have built one good car this year after building a terrible one only a year ago. It's a good car (should be 5th in the WCC IMO) but that's just it, it's not great but I think with a Hamilton or Alonso it could have challenged for the title. It's years like this in which a driver of their calibre really shines. Ultimately Williams probably can't afford Hamilton and their performance card isn't strong enough.
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