Rule changes bring opportunity for Williams to move up the order


Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Friday 25 November 2016. Felipe Massa, Williams FW38 Mercedes. Photo: Glenn Dunbar/Williams ref: Digital Image _X4I2214. Credit: Williams Martini Racing

Williams Martini Racing’s Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams, is confident the team can use the new technical regulations for the 2017 Formula One Season to their advantage, having fared well at the last bout of changes back in 2014.

From 2011 – 2013, Williams experienced one of their worst runs of poor form on record, finishing no higher than eighth during that period, and ninth at their lowest in 2013, with just five points to their name.

But in 2014, a raft of regulation changes was introduced, signalling the start of the new hybrid era, and with it the chance for the Grove based squad to rise out of their slump. They did just that with brilliant effect.

In contrast to the handful of points achieved the year before, in 2014 they managed eight podium finishes, seeing them end the season in a much improved third place overall, and it is that fight and ability to come back from the depths of despair, that gives Claire Williams the confidence they can do it again this time around.

After a slight drop off in form across the last two seasons, the 40-year-old is hoping to come out all guns blazing when they hit the tarmac in Barcelona for pre-season testing next month, as she explained to Racer.com recently.

“Yeah for sure, it is that opportunity isn’t it that a new set of regulations provides.

“We did get it right then [in 2014], so you’d like to think once you do strip everything back, then once you’re starting from a base platform it’s much simpler I suppose than trying to find performance within tiny margins of regulations.”

The new rules will see the F1 teams focus switch from the power unit to aerodynamic performance in 2017, which means achieving as big a swing in progression as they managed in 2014, will be much harder to achieve this time around, but Williams has every confidence that her team are capable of developing a competitive machine.

“Our aero performance has been there for everybody to see and judge … but the guys in that team still got it right in 2014 and they are a good team; they know what they’re doing.

“We just have to trust that they are going into [this season] having looked at every area, every angle and evaluated it and done what they needed to do throughout the process of aero development, from CFD through to wind tunnel development work.

“All the targets that we’ve set them over the past nine months of development for the new car they’ve already met and exceeded. and we’ve had to re-establish those targets for them. So I have confidence in that group.

“Whether we still need to do some more work will be seen come testing in February.”

The retirement of highly experienced Technical Director Pat Symonds before Christmas will have been a huge blow for the Grove based squad, especially as they look more than likely to also lose driver Valtteri Bottas to the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, following the retirement of Nico Rosberg.

Felipe Massa, who had retired from F1 at the end of last season, is rumoured to be doing an about turn on that decision and re-joining the squad alongside rookie Lance Stroll, to provide some much needed experience in the wake of the Finn moving on, but with so much upheaval as well as the rule changes to contend with, it is already proving to be a tough pre-season for Williams Martini Racing, and not the sort of start they will have wanted.