Williams - A cause for concern?


Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Valued Member
The Brazilian GP marked 5 years since Juan Pablo Montoya crossed the line in first place in a Williams car. Since 1997 when JV took Williams' last title the team have only taken a handful of wins and hit almost rock bottom as far as points go, in 2006.

At the end of this season Williams will potentially be without both drivers and without an engine deal.

If they do go for Cosworth they are going to start next season with an untested engine that will almost certainly be down on power and the danger that they could slip back into the bottom end of the grid is a very real one. This is especially so if one of the new teams manages to hit the ground running.

Can Williams avoid this fate or am I being too pesamistic?
The only positive thing for Williams is that they have tax payer RBS sponsorship for 2010, if they were looking for new sponsor for next year the situation would be even more desperate.

Does anyone here see similarities with Tyrrell? A few seasons at the top (admittedly quite a few more for Williams than Tyrrell), followed by a few seasons with race wins but no titles and then a slow and steady decline, struggling for sponsors and scratching around for engine deals. Sad.
Does anyone here see similarities with Tyrrell?

That's my concern FB, not only Tyrell but Lotus as well. They both followed a very similar patern of decline. As with Ken Tyrell and Colin Chapman the thought of Williams without Sir Frank and Patrick Head is almost unthinkable however neither of them are getting any younger.

Have Williams gone past the stage now where they are seen as being a good seat? I believe they are on the point of that. A couple more seasons without a win and their name will no longer be enough to get the big sponsors in and that will be that.
c_a_T said :
Have Williams gone past the stage now where they are seen as being a good seat?

They will still be regarded as a better seat than the likes of Manor etc. but I agree they have been on a decline in recent years. It would be a shame to see them go the same way as many of the teams of old.
Despite this thread being 18 months old, it is more relevant now than it was when c_a_t first posted it.

They are currently standing 10th in the Constructors', just above Virgin and HRT.
They only just finished the 2010 season a single point above Force India and their best result for several years are a few 4th place finishes.

Unless they can turn around what seems to be a terminal decline, I can see them scrapping it out at the back of the grid before long.

What a sad state of affairs for what has been a very successful team in the past.
These are WCC positions.


It has all the hallmarks, I'm afraid. There were upturns and signs of hope before it all went down the pot for Lotus and Brabham too. I can see the end of Williams, and it is really sad to see!

Brabham spent 1992 unable to beat Fondmetal in the WCC, and were even behind Andrea Moda in Monaco! 1994 saw the once great Lotus edged out by Larrousse and scoring as many points as Simtek!

Both of those Championships were won by Williams; but it is 7 years since their last win. Lotus' last win was in 1987, Brabhams in 1985. As the Americans would say, you do the math.
I agree there are a lot of similarities with both Tyrell and Lotus but I'm still hopeful.

The difference is that Williams are still capable of coming up with some beautifully engineered components - this years gearbox and the potential for flywheel KERS. Their cars still show potential but it isn't being realised and I think that can be put down to poor team and development management.

The other problem is that old bugbear of holding onto the good drivers. IMO they should have lost Rubens this year and stuck with the Hulk... my gut feeling is that Rubens has stayed on one year too long.
Unless they have upgrades for Turkey and Barcelona, I reckon that they will be overtaken by Team lotus, Mike Gascoyne's comments were very telling after the race when he said that 'unfortunately Williams were the next team to be overhauled'.
my gut feeling is that Rubens has stayed on one year too long.
I couldn't agree more and said as much when the driver line-up was announced for this year.

They need some new, young blood, and not a pay driver either.

Based on TBY's charts and data though, Williams have at most 3 years left before they bow out altogether.
Let's hope there's some kind of master plan in place to turn it around.
I think the team can survive in a Tyrrell-esque fashion for a good few years yet, after all I don't think Frank and Patrick are likely to gamble the factory on one good season like Walkinshaw did with Arrows. They'll spend within their means; but that's not a reason to be cheerful, since that would just mean more of the same.

When Honda left, they picked up Renault. When Renault left, they picked up BMW. But it's a long time now since BMW went, and I'm not sure that Williams are as attractive a partner for a manufacturer as they once were. If VW-Audi enter F1 in the next few years, as is constantly rumoured, you'd have to say that they'll most likely either go it alone, or join up with Sauber.

It just doesn't look good from any angle (and I'm not talking about the rear wing support).
The loss of BMW didn't help Brabham; although it was Bernie's ludicrous decision to "rest" the team for the 1988 season which really killed the baby on that one! They were reduced to some embarassing things:


I suppose few teams would survive the luck of Mark Webber! Satoru Nakajima drove for Lotus and Tyrell at the start of the decline, maybe the Nakajima family curse will continue...
Hmm, after reading the Q&A with Sam Michael this morning I came to CTA with the intent of starting a thread entitled something along the lines of "Williams: Dying on their supercompact backsides?", or similar. But I see someone beat me to it by a year and a half!

Anyway, what really worried me about the article (http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/90866) was that the tone of his language clearly suggests that SM has mentally moved on from Williams already. I've said it for a while that I think Michael is the weak link in Williams these days, and when you start to hear him echo those sentiments himself you begin to think that Frank and Patrick really should be talking about pushing him before he jumps. The problem is, who do you replace him with? F1 visionaries seem to be thin on the ground these days. Other teams that have bimbled around at the back have all failed to make a comeback without some drastic, large-scale reorganisations, usually accompanied by a change of ownership and name. Tyrrell to Brawn, Minardi to Torro Rosso, Toleman to Benetton, and so on. Even Frank has been here before with his old FWRC team, which ended up as the race-winning Wolf of 1977 before the wing car revolution changed the landscape. So... evolution has failed. Let the revolution begin!

Should Frank lead the purge from within, or is it time he set the wheelchair's motors to "Exit"?
It's an unenviable task to replace Patrick Head as a technical director, I should think. So I do have some sympathy for Michael, and I think the twin blows of losing Newey, and the works engine deal, were probably the most damaging overall (not sure how much responsibility Sam can take for the latter; possibly some).

It's hard to escape the conclusion that radical change is now needed, and Michael has had plenty of time to get things right. But who to replace him with? James Key is highly regarded, but has only recently moved from Force India to Sauber. Mike Gascoyne? Unlikely, but you never know.

When does Pat Symonds' ban expire? Anyone?
Williams only hope is a large scale buyout by someone who wants to do a 'RedBull'.

I don't know of any likely contenders with lots of spare capital as the usual big spending oil producing countries are cutting down on their sports investments. The financial market is still struggling across most of the globe.

The only major country with a vibrant economy is China but unfortunately they don't seem to have much of an interest in F1.

There are a few interested parties still wanting to break into F1 if the price is right so we need to keep an eye on the flotation thread and when the price drops low enough expect a bidding war for what remains of the team.
So Sam Michael has announced his intention to leave the team...but not until the end of the season.
That may be too little, too late, to save Williams.

They need to get some new blood in now and also a decent driver or two.
I'm not clear that Sam is or was the 'problem'. Still perhaps a change - any change - is what's needed.

They've recruited Mike 'the photocopier' Coughlan to their engineering strength, I'm sure he'd be in the frame for Michael's job when Sam does step aside.
Top Bottom