Claire Williams is optimistic that Williams Martini Racing can return to the level of achievement demonstrated during the 2014 and 2015 season. But the deputy team principal is fully aware that a repeat of last year’s performance is neither assistive with that goal or acceptable.
The Grove-based outfit managed only one podium last year and slipped to fifth in the constructors’ battle, falling behind Red Bull Racing and most notably Sahara Force India F1 Team. In a sport where each placing dropped comes with a loss in the millions, this slip in the Constructors’ Championship will have proved very costly indeed.
“You need to work in order to effect change and we have done a lot of work over the past few months in order to do a bit more restructuring and augment what we did in 2013,” Williams told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I think the future remains bright for our team and I think to try and put any sort of performance expectation is difficult because of the new regulations.
“We don’t know where we are, but we have got to improve and move back up from fifth in the championship.”
When asked about the re-signing of the temporarily ” retired” Felipe Massa, Williams was quick to defend the Brazilian’s seat, praising the value of his experience and team familiarity.
“I think this year is going to be interesting from a number of perspectives, not least because of these new regulations, and for us having that experience in the cockpit was the most important thing,” Williams explained.
“You can talk about where Valtteri was last year and the ratios on qualifying and being three tenths quicker. But I’d rather have experience in the cockpit than putting in another rookie who you don’t quite know what they are going to do.”
“Felipe was the best choice for us,” she stressed. “We have Lance Stroll joining us this year, he is a rookie and we needed someone in the second car who had experience and so Felipe, having only just left the team, was the absolute choice for us – the ideal candidate.
“I didn’t know that he didn’t really want to retire from motorsport and so it was fantastic he agreed to come back because for us that was the ideal solution.”