|Team||Williams Martini Racing|
Battling the big guns
The Williams Martini Racing Team is without doubt one of the sport’s ‘old guard’. Only two teams – Ferrari and McLaren – have competed in more Grands Prix than Williams and only they have won more World Championships than the 16 accumulated by Williams.
Before 2014, the previous decade had been tough for the privateer team, with only two of the team’s 114 victories and only three of its 297 podium finishes coming in that period. But that form improved dramatically two years ago and continued to be strong in 2015.
With a class-leading Mercedes power unit, a sound chassis and a strong driver line-up of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, Williams began a return to their former glory. Though they failed to win a race in 2014, the team provided a real challenge to pacesetters Mercedes. Although Ferrari then out paced them in 2015, Williams finished third in the constructors’ championship for the second consecutive season following podium appearances at four of the 19 races, half of what the team achieved in 2014.
William’s recent resurgence followed a difficult period where Pastor Maldonado’s lone victory and pole position in the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix was the only highlight for a number of years. But following the Venezuelan’s departure at the end of 2013 the team appeared to hit on the perfect driver combination.
Massa, who narrowly missed out on the drivers’ title in 2008, joined the team with plenty of experience and after several tough seasons in the shadow of Fernando Alonso at Ferrari, the Brazilian showed he had lost none of his pace. He dovetailed well with Valtteri Bottas of Finland, whose natural pace was hidden for much of 2013 by a Williams car which failed to match expectations.
The switch to Mercedes power in 2014 proved inspired and combined with astute management changes, including Sir Frank Williams shifting an increasing amount of team direction to his daughter Claire, Williams bounced back from a ninth-place finish in the constructors’ championship in 2013 to third in 2014.
After repeating that feat in 2015, can they go one step further in 2015 by troubling Mercedes and Ferrari, and turn themselves back into a race-winning team?