Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

The woeful ways of Williams // Can the team turn their Formula One performance around?

Published by Lukeh

The last of the greats
The last of the greatsCredit: Lukeh

You may not have noticed this, but I am a Rubens Barrichello fan. I never mention it apart from... well, always. This obvious statement has a point though. You see, over the years Rubens has been part of some big teams, and also Jordan too. Sorry Eddie. The biggest name, so to speak, in the sport in terms of teams would be Ferrari, and we all know about some of the times spent behind Michael at the team, but I feel that if you asked Rubens what team he has always looked up to and wanted to be a part of it would be Williams.

As Rubens came into the sport as a young, inexperienced newbie thanks to Eddie Jordan back in 1993 he had the perfect mentor to look after him in Ayrton Senna. Although Senna's time at Williams was cut unfortunately short, the team held a great deal to him; especially as they still as they continued to run their cars with the Senna logo on them to this very day. Williams are a special team, and even if they've faded in recent years, I hope they one day find their way and return to where they should be - at the front.

When I first started watching Formula 1 towards the latter end of the mid 90's when Damon Hill became champion, one of the first cars I saw in the sport was that beautiful Rothmans Williams car. It's still one of my favourite cars in the sport's history alongside the Brawn BGP001 and Hakkinen's McLaren MP4/14. And even though I've always admired the team but never been a huge Williams fan over the years, it makes me sad to see the team in their current form almost struggling through races.

You go through the history of the sport watching online clips, seeing television segments on the team, interviews with the likes of Patrick Head and Frank Williams, the team ooze history and heritage in the sport. Clay Regazzoni was the man lucky enough to begin the winning ways for Frank Williams' newly created team in 1979, just a few seasons into the sport at the time and following their last championship win with Jacques Villeneuve in 1997, they had won 9 constructors championships. Yet with Hungary passing us by with another woeful race for the team, it marked another tough realisation for the team that serious changes need to be made. Even qualifying from Brazil last season where they grabbed pole position seems a far cry from the low position finishes of 2011.

That said, the team just have to keep moving forward. I realise how biased it may sound but the team have the correct driver in Barrichello to lead them through this period of poor results. Rubens has been in the sport for approximately 48 years now (maybe a little less), and if anyone can keep a cool head during tough times it would be Rubens. His time at Honda, whilst awesome, brought very little success for anyone with the car they had designed and both himself and Jenson Button learnt valuable lessons in keeping your head down and simply focusing on getting the best from a bad car.

Rubens is a very strong developer of the car and plenty of times his team-mates have used his experience to get as strong a setup as can be found in their car. He has his critics, but he does the job and still can do despite coming up to his 40's now. Pastor Maldonado is still a developing force for the team but he's coming along nicely as Williams look to develop the South American two-some. In terms of qualifying this season, it stands 6-5 to Rubens but it goes to show how close it's been with their qualifying times this year.

Whereas Rubens seems to fall behind a bit with his qualifying laps, Maldonado seems to be less effective in the race but what can you do when the car seems as weak as it does this year? 4 points in 11 races is more Minardi than Williams. The loss of Hulkenburg probably hurt the team more than helped them in my personal opinion as he began to show what he could do, but there's no point in looking back at that choice to drop him now as it'll change nothing.

But there is no need to be negative. Williams have so much to look forward to, and I truly feel the future is looking a lot rosier. The big news is of course the Renault deal that sees the reunion of the Williams-Renault combination, a duo that have brought in five Constructors championships together over the years, and I think a lot of fans are excited to see them back together. Cosworth's name being back in the sport is nice but their engines just don't do enough. They still seem extremely unreliable and don't have the power behind them to get anywhere near beyond midfield or so it feels.

Renault's more recent success with Red Bull and of course their own team before that shows how good their engines are with the right car. Lotus have progressively found themselves getting closer and closer to the midfield since their deal with Renault at the start of 2011, give it time and we'll see them fighting for the points. It still all boils down to the car design too though, and Williams really do need to make sure they go down the right route for 2012 and onwards in order to get back on the right path. It all looked good coming into 2011 with that aggressive stance on the rear section of the car especially (not to mention that gorgeous livery which clearly contributes to car performance) but with a large amount of personnel change within the team the changes could bring a much more positive future.

The controversial addition of Mike Coughlan brings more experience into the team, although it's hard to ignore the history behind his F1 career. But sometimes changes can bring in new ideas, a new approach, a new beginning for Williams as they look for their former success where ever it may lay.

Williams are a team who should always be within the sport. They haven't been there from the start but they've been there long enough to be one of 'those' teams and their history certainly backs that up. When Tyrrell were bought out and their name left the sport following the arrival of BAR, even at a young age it felt like a little bit of F1 history had been lost. If the same every happened to Williams and they became 'another team' by name, it would have an even greater impact to me now. It would be like Senna without his yellow helmet design, or Manchester United without a red home kit. That's why it's essential they find their feet and return to the great ways they once had. Will it come any time soon? As a Barrichello fan I hope so. As an emerging Williams fan, I hope so.

As a Formula 1 fan, I definitely hope so.