Can Williams win, afford the development war?

It’s a tall order but having been bested by Ferrari in Australia for the season-opening grand prix, Williams F1 reckons it can outdevelop its competition and continue its second-place status in the constructor’s Championship at least. Performance chief Rob Smedley said:

“What I see is a huge change in mentality at Williams over the space of 12 months,” he said. “It now believes it can outdevelop any other team.

“The windtunnel is doing a fantastic job with the amount of performance they are bringing to the car and the guys in mechanical design have done an immense job.

“Once again we have a safe, reliable and well-balanced car and we have to keep pushing on.

“We will get there, I have no doubt we can outdevelop other people.”

I certainly don’t doubt that Williams F1’s new performance gain and cash infusion for securing 2nd in the championship will pay dividends but can they actually outdevelop Ferrari? History says they can but these days F1’s costs are so galactic in proportion that only the biggest, most well-financed teams can manage to engage a punishingly aggressive development program throughout the year.

Williams is no stranger to car development and will now be a team who closes shop by mid-season with no new car development for the balance of the year. They will fight to the end but there is little doubt that Ferrari’s resources outweigh those of Williams and this leaves much room for innovative thinking in which to overcome innovative bank accounts.

If Williams can pull this off with their Mercedes engine, then there is hope for smaller teams to take on well-funded giants and win just as they did last year. However, we can’t overlook the major weapon in their arsenal which is an uber-expensive Mercedes engine that cost the German carmaker millions to develop.

Regardless, Williams have the bit in and are gunning to the top and we wouldn’t want it any other way. I suspect Ferrari have alternative plans however.


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Paul KieferJr

Of course, just because someone has more money that God, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll get it right. Case in point: Ferrari’s efforts last year was abysmal. There’s still some hope for Williams regardless of how much anyone spends.


At least Williams only need to develop the chassis as their power unit is the class of the field. Ferrari on the other hand, need to develop the complete package.

Mr. Obvious

Indeed. — And from the looks of it, they have some “low-hanging fruit” in terms of engine performance gains to realize as well. That is, Mercedes appears to be extracting a bit more performance from that uber-expensive power unit package than Williams. I think Williams engine development team will continue to quietly roll out some performance upgrades of their own.
That said, Ferrari was one lugnut away from walking away from Australia with second place in the Constructors’ Championship standings. Seems to me that Williams may already be behind in the development race.

Negative Camber

And I am still keen to see what, if anything, becomes of Massa’s talk about not having the same engine as Merc. He was relatively adamant that it wasn’t the case.


The last time Pat Symonds visited the Motor Sport podcast, he was asked about this and mentioned that he thought it natural if the Mercedes team gets first dibs on any new engine parts. You can only produce so many parts, and naturally you’ll supply your own team first. That wasn’t something he seemed to worry about at all. Of course, intentionally and over time running two separate specs of power unit – with a detuned version for the customers – would be a completely different matter (not to mention in breach of the regulations, I believe). But Pat Symonds… Read more »


Smedley is an emotional slob and I wonder if all the hyperbole from him – eg over the years encouraging/babysitting Massa – is clouding our understanding of Williams. Where’s the proof of anything he says?


Toro Rosso is nipping at Red Bull, McLaren have been soundly beaten by Force India, Sauber have embarassed Ferrari. Williams can do plenty.