Both Adam Parr, the Williams chairman, and Bernard Rey, President of Renault Sport F1, have been answering questions on the new partnership between the two companies.
Renault will supply Williams with engines from next season in a deal that resurrects the legendary partnership from 1989-1997.
“This [new] partnership is for the long-term,” says Parr. “It will see Renault provide Williams with its championship-winning RS27 V8 engines for 2012 and 2013. Meanwhile we are already working on an extension for the new engine formula which arrives in 2014.”
Clearly having the same Renault engine that sits in the back of Sebastian Vettel‘s Red Bull would be great for any team in Williams‘ position, but Parr explains the reasons why the team have selected the French car company to provide their engines:
“Renault is serious about success and so are we,” he said. “They compete in Formula One because it's at the cutting edge of developing technologies and because it is the pinnacle of motorsport. This is also why we compete in the sport and together we believe we can return AT&T Williams to our former competitiveness.”
But why would Renault want to supply another team on the grid? They already supply three – Red Bull, Lotus Renault and Team Lotus – so what is there to be gained by adding another?
“With a fourth team, one third of the grid, Renault has more opportunity to increase its brand visibility through credible results and marketing opportunities, therefore further enhancing the efficiency of its investment into the sport,” explains Bernard Rey. “Renault remains in F1 to achieve success in a cost efficient way, and the partnership with Williams has great potential to add to the results we have notched up over the recent years with our three other partner teams.
“Williams has recently taken several important steps, both commercially and technically, to update its operations and we feel that this partnership is another important step in its rigorous plan. It reiterates how determined the team is to achieve results, which matches perfectly with our own objectives.”
When asked if the fact that Renault supplied three other teams was a problem, Parr pointed out that, actually, it was advantage: “Given the massive investment that Renault has made in its V8 and will make in the V6, they need a decent group of teams to supply – remember that they do not have their own team and so linking up with a number of successful chassis makers is essential,” said the Williams chairman.
“”In addition, the number of engines now used each season is very small. From over 200 per team a decade ago we are now down to about a tenth of that. From 2014 it may well drop by half again.
“Also with limited, single-car testing four teams gives Renault much more data for reliability and whatever development will be allowed in the future. Renault has always shown total integrity in offering parity to its partners and that is another essential factor for all of us.”
Rey does not see any logistical problems in adding Williams to their portfolio of teams either: “At the end of 2010 we announced a third team, Team Lotus, would be added to our existing partners of Lotus Renault GP and Red Bull Racing,” he reasoned. “By the results we have achieved this year we have already demonstrated that there has been no drop off in performance or service in doing so.
“The team at Viry see it very positively and are looking forward to a new relationship. We have sufficient facilities to adequately service a fourth client and will consider our internal structures before recruiting more personnel if necessary.
“Our priority is maintaining the excellent customer service and satisfaction and we'll take necessary measures to restructure operations if necessary.”
The Renault Sport F1 president also insisted that all four teams will be treated equally by their supplier: “RSF1 treats its partner teams with equal respect and each team has access to the same facilities and same in-house expertise,” he said. “Our partner teams have different strategies and priorities and we try to address each as part of our service, but we do not have a preferential policy towards any of our partners. Additionally the current contracts do not allow us to do so.
“We believe that competition between teams is healthy and beneficial for the overall performance and development of the engine, including amongst our customers.”
Of course, the new car from Williams – the FW34 – will have to be modified to accommodate the RS27 engine, but Adam Parr does not see that as a huge problem.
“Of course, changing engines requires extra work, but with relatively stable regulations for 2012, the change gives us an extra opportunity for development,” he said. “We have a very capable Design Office led by Ed Wood and they will be working with Renault's technicians, who are some of the finest in the world. Development of the FW34 is progressing well and the timing is not going to be an issue for the team.
“This announcement also coincides well with the recruitment of Mike Coughlan, Jason Somerville and Mark Gillan to the technical team. Together with Ed Wood, we believe we have now the right technical leadership and engine to help us take the next step.”
And what of Cosworth, the company that currently supplies Williams with the engines? “We had an understanding with Cosworth that continuing beyond this year was dependent on the longer-term prospects with the new engine. So, this was foreseen,” said Parr.
“”Having said that, Cosworth is an excellent engine partner. We are enormously grateful to them for all the hard work they have put into our partnership and we know that they will continue to work tirelessly for the remainder of this year. Whilst the end of the season will be the end of our on-track relationship with Cosworth, we are looking forward to working closely with them on our Jaguar project and continuing our partnership in this way.
And finally, do the historic connotations of the partnership place any extra pressure on Williams? “We constantly put pressure on ourselves to improve our performance regardless of expectations,” Parr said. “We're not satisfied with just finishing races or picking up a few points, our aim is to win and we want to put ourselves back in a position to do so.
“Clearly our performance at the moment is not where would like it to be, but we are doing all we can to rectify that and this partnership is another step in that process. This partnership is about the future. In a sense, it is about earning the right to inherit the past.”