|Team||Williams Martini Racing|
Rebuilding and growing
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 311 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.
Massa, who narrowly missed out on the drivers’ title in 2008, joined the team with plenty of experience in 2014 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 Bottas of Finland, whose natural pace was hidden for much of his first year in F1 in 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.
The 2016 season was another tough year for Williams as it slipped back to fifth in the constructors’ championship. But the team has hired Paddy Lowe and made a number of staffing changes as it hopes to rebuild and improve its position in the F1 pecking order.