I can’t say that I predicted this move but I certainly expected a change in the relationship between Williams and Mercedes after Sir Frank Williams and his daughter Claire Williams left the team.
Whether Claire would have fancied a full Mercedes supply of engines and gearboxes along with other non-listed parts I am not sure but the team never engaged Mercedes beyond the engine supply level.
Sir Frank always prided himself as a full constructor and part of that was creating their own gearboxes and ancillary parts as well as the actual car itself. Now, you either believed in that theory or you didn’t and perhaps Claire did or she was honoring Sir Frank’s desire to remain independent of Mercedes to just an engine supply deal. Either way, the new owners Clearly don’t believe in re-creating the wheel as they have announced a larger relationship with Mercedes to include non-listed parts.
“I’m pleased to see our great relationship with Mercedes extend beyond the supply of engines,” Williams team principal Simon Roberts said.
“Williams is an independent team, but Formula One is always evolving, and as a team we must be agile to react to the current climate in order to put the team in the best position to be competitive on track.
“This long-term agreement with Mercedes is a positive step and forms part of our strategic objectives for the future whilst we will still retain our design and manufacturing capabilities in-house.”
What this should do is position the team to have a clean slate and begin building very much in the way Racing Point did. There are some very smart men and women at Williams who, unshackled by the challenge of making the right gearboxes and other complicated elements that work with the Mercedes engine, can now devote their time to making the best car they can.
It would be nice if this expanded relationship delivers on-track performance gains. Racing Point went as far as replicating some of the design elements from the 2019 Mercedes car and perhaps Williams can do something similar in order to move up the field.
While Sir Frank would never have done that, I suspect the new owners have another goal in mind and that isn’t digging your heels in over customer car vs constructor pride. It’s about delivering points and earning enough prize money to offset the cost of running the team.