Williams 2023: Get rid of the underdog label

Longtime Formula 1 fans will easily recall the years of Williams Renault’s blue-and-white dominance, when Nigell Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve became champions and the team won the Constructors’ Championship. Those who follow Formula 1 less will certainly remember Nico Hulkenberg’s pole position in Brazil in 2010, Pastor Maldonado’s victory in the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix and third place in the team standings in the 2014 and 2015 championships. And he also hopes in 2018 that the car will go and the Russian Sergey Sirotkin will score many points.

Those days are long gone and the team has been having a tough time. And the 2021 season, with Williams ahead of Alfa Romeo and Haas, was a clear glimmer of hope. Unfortunately, last season was completed again in the basement of the team classification. But in 2023, Grow is aiming to get rid of the underdog label.


In the off-season without a leader

The winter personnel reshuffle did not bypass Williams, when team principal Jost Capito and technical director François-Xavier Demaison suddenly announced his departure. The decision was really sudden for many, since nothing foreshadowed such a development of events. But two years after their appointments, Capito and Demaison left their posts, and the team was left without two major leaders in the offseason.

The new leader was the former chief strategist of “Mercedes” (memorable “Valtteri, this is James” – his words) James Vowles. But he will only take over his duties from February 20, becoming de facto manager of the team only before the pre-season tests.

The post of technical director is also still vacant, so one can only speculate about the technical sophistication of the car. The new leadership will also have to solve this problem.

At the same time, the management managed to find a new main sponsor. The company has become gulf oil. This gives us hope that there will be no problems with funding, which had been hinted at in 2022. And there will be major updates more than once a season, as Alex Albon said during the presentation.

The pilots are ready to fight

On the situation that is developing in the team, we can begin to sum up the first idea according to the declarations of the pilots. Usually optimistic, written as a project (we are looking forward to when we will fight for high places), they can be immediately attributed to formulas. And all the more unusual is the statement of Albon himself, that it is difficult to say whether the team will be able to rise higher this season. Or that it doesn’t expect results like Haas did last year. Yes, there is some optimism that the team is in a better position than a year ago. And if we take that out, then the picture for the fans is creepy. Furthermore, the sporting director of the team, Sven Smits, described what is happening in the team as “controlled chaos”. What is hidden in reality, if you remove the traditional presentation optimism?

Don’t underestimate the skill of the team’s riders. Both Alex Albon and Logan Sargent, who sees his Williams contract as nothing more than a miracle from above, will do their best to give it their all. But is skill enough if the car frankly doesn’t go? In any case, the task of getting rid of the outsider label, with such initials, seems much more difficult.

Debut on the track

Williams did not go original and also presented only the car livery on the show car. Herself FW extension45 will only take to the track at Silverstone on 13 February. Now the car is in the final assembly stage. According to the technical data, the new car will have a better downforce thanks to the refinement of the front suspension and aerodynamic elements. Note that the handling, which, by the way, both Albon and Latifi complained about last season, will improve. The Mercedes engine is renowned for its reliability and can help the team fight for points. The ties between Vowles and Mercedes will only strengthen and help in the development of cooperation. But whether the aero component is sufficient is an open question here.

Meanwhile, all predictions end with the traditional introductory phrase: “We will find out the state of things only in the first race of the season.” Let’s wait for Bahrain.


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