When McLaren parted company with Eric Boullier, most fans felt it was a move long in the making. I’ve said many times on our podcasts that it is difficult to fire the whole team when you are performing poorly so most times, owners fire the coach. They did that before with Ron Dennis and Martin Whitmarsh. Fred Vasseuer parted ways with Renault. Paddy Lowe from Mercedes. Stefano Domenicali from Ferrari.
Yesterday, Mercedes made some management shuffles in lead positions as we mentioned here. When Bouliier parted company, I asked a simple question. McLaren, a historic British team, is facing serious performance issues in Formula 1 but there is also another team struggling as well and that’s Williams F1.
Williams have shuffled their own management in key areas with Paddy Lowe and rob Smedley joining, Dirk de Beer leaving etc. The question I asked last week was, is anyone going to ask about the coach in this team? The coach is the daughter of founder Sir Frank Williams, Claire Williams.
Let’s be honest, parting company with the owner’s offspring is not a likely prospect. However, with stories regarding shorts during a race weekend and a serious lack of performance, has the team reached a point where it needs to make a significant shake up? Can they cure their ills in 2018 and turn this season around? According to Former Williams driver, Jacques Villeneuve, that may not be possible. In fact, he thinks they need a major change.
“No. The team is dead.
“There is no management. There was a choice back then [in 2013], you either put the heiress or the heir [in charge].
“And they put Claire instead of Jonathan [who runs Williams’s heritage division].
“Big mistake. Obviously, just look where the team is at now.”
“You have to admit that you’re screwed,” said Villeneuve, who left Williams a year after winning the title. “I don’t know how it can recover. I just don’t see it.
“If you have two drivers without experience, that won’t help. Not in a team like this.”
It may not be a popular subject and at a time when F1 is trying to promote more women in the sport, it would be a difficult decision. That didn’t seem to stop Sauber from parting company with Monisha Kaltenborm, however, and in the end, the revenue may not be able to sustain the current trajectory the leadership is working on. Ultimately it is about having the right person in charge of the right people to make the right choices.
Having two young drivers at the team isn’t helping matters either and with Lance Stroll’s family heavily invested in the team, there is very little they can do. Sergey Sirotkin brings significant money too and again, their hands are somewhat tied here. One might argue that if leadership had made different or better decisions, they may not have had to be so heavily leveraged in paying drivers. They do have arguably the best engine on the grid and should have been able to be hunting podiums. Believe me, that is much easier said than done so I understand those critiques may not be as fair as they could be.
The team are working with material constraints that are very challenging to overcome but by comparison, so are Force India and they have made much better use of their Mercedes engine supply. As much as I like Claire Williams, it is a tough situation indeed but do you fire the team or the coach? What do you think about Williams F1’s issues and JV’s comments?
Hat Tip: autosport