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 Post subject: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2010, 15:12  
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Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
#04 | 20th January 2010 | By Phillip Horton

For Williams, the first decade of the 21st Century has been a case of reaping much for little reward. The team amassed just 10 wins in this period and considering that they have finished on the top step of the podium 113 times in 32 years, the fact that this feat hasn’t been achieved since Brazil 2004 shows the extent of the team’s downfall. 2006 was a particular low for the team with no podium finishes and 20 retirements from 36 starts, despite a strong driver pair in Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg. Missed opportunities have been the key problem for Williams in the 21st century. In 2009, the team had a relatively fast car, which in the hands of Hamilton, Alonso or Raikkonen, probably would have won a few races. Although Rosberg is a very solid driver, he is still capable of making rookie errors – such as sliding off in Singapore when a podium was a certainty. Having a driver in the other car who was only there due to the engine deal with Toyota, Williams had to try and support Nakajima, but for him, 2009 was a complete disaster and all of the teams points came from Rosberg. This meant that challenging the likes of BMW and Toyota in the constructor’s championship became extremely difficult, despite the team having a superior car. Given that the squad spent most of 2008 working on 2009, a 7th place finish was not acceptable. The team had the 2nd or 3rd best car in the flyaway races but scraped together 3.5 points. When other teams, such as Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, caught up and overtook them, the opportunities became mere chances which neither driver fully capitalised on.

So what has changed to see Williams go from the dominant force to mere points challengers in the space of 10 years?

This is quite a difficult question because unlike other circumstances faced by other teams, there is no apparent item which you can put your finger on.

Firstly, there is the situation of the drivers. 1997 saw the team pair Jacques Villeneuve with Heinz Harald Frentzen. The team won the drivers and constructors championship but only at the last round. The dominance of the car should have seen them wrap both titles up far sooner than they did. The vast rule changes in 1998 saw the car fall to just a podium contender. 1999 saw a parallel with 2009 as Ralf Schumacher scored all of the team’s points whilst Alex Zanardi was pointless all year.

Secondly, the key personnel of the team have largely stayed the same: Frank Williams still runs the team and Patrick Head still builds the cars. As well as this, the ongoing rumours regarding Williams’ poor financial state look to have ended following the announcement that Toto Wolff had purchased a minority stake in the team.

However, I think the main problem that has faced Williams has not been any of the above, but this: the engine and who supplies them.
The Renault engine of the 1990s was by far the best engine around at the time. Its power was kind of like the superiority that Ducati had in MotoGP in 2007. In the first half of the 2000s, Williams employed BMW as their engine suppliers, but like fellow Germans Mercedes, they could not live with the power and reliability of the Ferrari engines and quite often Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya were found at the side of the track sat next to a smoking car. Cosworth proved an even bigger disaster due to the reliability of the engines: for example, the cars were 3rd and 4th on the grid in Malaysia but both retired with engine failures. In Monaco, Mark Webber ran third throughout the race but retired with, yet again, engine failure. At Hockenheim, Mark Webber was again running third when, once again, the car spluttered to a halt. Although the Toyota engines which powered the cars for 3 years from 2007 to 2009 were very reliable, they did not give out much power and were often left trailing by their rivals on long straights.

Cosworth are again powering Williams in 2010 with an updated version of the CA V8 engine which powered the cars in 2006. Williams have to hope that the updated version translates to reliability as another season in the doldrums would see the team lose hope, especially with the strong driver pairing which they have in Rubens Barrichello and rising star Nico Hulkenberg.

Although the pair are not the most formidable force, Williams will probably be the best team who won’t have the conundrum that will face the likes of McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull in terms of who the number one driver will be. They know that their game plan for 2010 will be to score points regularly with Barrichello and to help Hulkenberg, using Barrichello’s experience, so that he will be finishing in the points by the end of the season. However, how good Hulkenberg will be is still questionable. Whilst not every GP2 graduate has fared well in Formula One, most have. Hulkenberg has an outstanding record in junior formulae and his career path almost matches that of Lewis Hamilton. He is only 22, but has already won titles in Formula BMW, A1GP, F3 Euroseries and GP2. , taking 5 wins in his title winning year in GP2, despite having an inferior car to his rival, Vitaly Petrov. In complete contrast to Hulkenberg, Rubens Barrichello will start his 300th grand prix in 2010 and should be comfortable in a team who appreciate the faith that he has shown in them. After all, he has left a championship winning team in 2009 to drive for the team that finished 7th. Yes, at the time, it looked as if he was being ousted to make way for Nico Rosberg, but still, it’s a giant leap down. If a driver like Rubens, who has been said to set the Brawn up for Jenson Button on numerous occasions in 2009, cannot aid the team, then it will be difficult for Williams to hire anyone who could do the job better.

---------------------------------------------------

Next week (27th Jan): Jenson at McLaren.

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 Post subject: Re: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2010, 17:47  
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Your way too harsh on the BMW engines, they had the best engine in F1 for most of the early 2000's. See Hockenheim 2001 and look at how big the gap between BMW and everyone else was. Reliability wasn't the greatest, but better than everyone else except Ferrari. Apart from that I mostly agree with you, and its a good article.
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 Post subject: Re: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2010, 20:29  
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Quote:
This is quite a difficult question because unlike other circumstances faced by other teams, there is no apparent item which you can put your finger on.

Firstly, there is the situation of the drivers. 1997 saw the team pair Jacques Villeneuve with Heinz Harald Frentzen. The team won the drivers and constructors championship but only at the last round. The dominance of the car should have seen them wrap both titles up far sooner than they did. The vast rule changes in 1998 saw the car fall to just a podium contender. 1999 saw a parallel with 2009 as Ralf Schumacher scored all of the team’s points whilst Alex Zanardi was pointless all year.

Secondly, the key personnel of the team have largely stayed the same: Frank Williams still runs the team and Patrick Head still builds the cars. As well as this, the ongoing rumours regarding Williams’ poor financial state look to have ended following the announcement that Toto Wolff had purchased a minority stake in the team.


something seems wrong here. first you wrote this:
Quote:
This is quite a difficult question because unlike other circumstances faced by other teams, there is no apparent item which you can put your finger on.


after this, one would have expected you to be explaining about the lack of competitiveness in this decade since you started the next paragraph with "Firstly"- but from here it gets a bit ambiguous as to whether you are telling about the good things or the bad

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 Post subject: Re: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2010, 20:31  
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Quote:
they could not live with the power and reliability of the Ferrari engines

reliability- i agree with you
power- i do not agree because BMW clearly had the most powerful engine at that point, but they were terrible (atleast compared to Ferrari) in terms of reliability

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 Post subject: Re: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2010, 20:34  
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Quote:
Whilst not all GP2 graduate have fared well in Formula One, most have.

this sounds better i think :)

Quote:
Rosberg is a very solid driver, he is still capable of making rookie errors

same applies to Hamilton IMO

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 Post subject: Re: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2010, 20:37  
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No, that's gramatically incorrect.

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 Post subject: Re: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2010, 20:40  
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Quote:
Light at the end of a long tunnel


I think the heading too does not match the topic, as the topic doesnt talk about much light to be seen IMHO

Off-Topic: show
Sorry for sounding harsh in my comments Phil, but these are only my opinions, and i definetly hope it helps you to become a very good writer

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 Post subject: Re: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2010, 20:42  
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phil1993 wrote:
No, that's gramatically incorrect.

i thought so :blush:

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 Post subject: Re: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2010, 21:02  
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Interesting read. 2009 still was their best year since 2005, and that was achieved with only one driver scoring points. If they can keep the momentum, they could be a team to watch in 2010, especially with their promising line-up; but a lot does depend on the engine, indeed.

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 Post subject: Re: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 21 Jan 2010, 17:42  
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they had potential while partnering bmw.....but too bad it didn't work out well. i hope the glory days like those good old williams-renault days would once again greet us. but imo, williams needs a good and solid engine supplier.....maybe mitsubishi in the near future?

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 Post subject: Re: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 21 Jan 2010, 17:46  
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Great article again, Phil.

Really hope to see Williams back in the front of the grid again, like in the Montoya times

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 Post subject: Re: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 28 Jan 2010, 14:59  
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I feel the worst is over for Williams and that if they can sign a decent egine manufacturer we could see them becoming podium regulars in a few years time.

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 Post subject: Re: Williams - Light at the end of a long tunnel
PostPosted: 28 Jan 2010, 16:38  
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not much engine manufacturers left......either they left f1 or currently monopolizing the field @ their best interest.....

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