Williams endured a much tougher 2016 than they were perhaps expecting. The question is, can they get back onto the podium in 2017 with the all new FW40?
Williams finished 5th in last year’s Constructors Championship after finishing 3rd the previous two seasons, finishing behind the smaller Force India team. It came as a bit of a shock to Sir Frank Williams’ outfit, who long have hoped of returning to the winner’s circle more regularly. The team’s last win was back in 2012 with Pastor Maldonado, and they have come close since then. The most notable chances were at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix and the 2015 British Grand Prix, but both times they came up short against the Mercedes. Last year’s FW38 was out-developed considerably by the VJM09, but the team hope to give Force India a good run for their money with the FW40.
“I was for sure not ready to carry on in Formula One just to be part of the grid. If I work somewhere I need to work in the place that I feel important, that maybe I can be competitive.”
Felipe Massa has returned to replace Valtteri Bottas, and the Brazilian is joined by highly rated rookie Lance Stroll. Both are fast but there are question marks over Massa as to where his mindset will be in what will probably be his swan-song year in the sport, and as to whether rookie Stroll will be consistent enough to secure the points the team needs. Losing Bottas was a big blow to Williams so both drivers really need to haul in the points. Whether the team can cause an upset is another matter as it looks like stiff competition could come from a number of teams. McLaren, Toro Rosso, Renault and Force India all look menacing and you cannot rule out Haas either. The midfield could be so close this year that Williams may even find themselves slipping further behind the others. If they can’t retain fifth in the Championship, or steal fourth place back from Force India then surely that is something at least. Podiums must be a target, as regularly as possible.
“After finishing fifth in the constructors’ championship in 2016 it will be a challenging year – especially as we enter this new era of racing. However, the team have been working extremely hard over the winter to deliver the maximum performance out of the car going into a brand new season.”
The team are entering their 40th anniversary season and there would be no better present than a return to the top step of the podium. Perhaps the FW40 is better than we are giving it credit for – Maybe it could win a race. But it is a big ask.Williams is full of talented and brilliant people and if they really gel this year and produce a car that is as quick as she is beautiful (barring fin), maybe they can get back onto the podium. The team that is often referred to as ‘F1’s sleeping giant’ really could do with being reawakened.