There was an article over at AUTOSPORT that I found interesting as it added to my already somewhat cemented concept of who Williams F1 is (be ir right or wrong).
I have always felt that Sir Frank has been much more entrenched with the team and car than he was with the driver. Not that he didn’t recognize great drivers (like Senna) but that drivers will come and go and the team along with its car design is always the most critical element.
The article seems to buttress that concept as technical wonk Pat Symonds said:
“When I’ve said it in the past, I didn’t meant we couldn’t exploit what superstar drivers have got, but they cost money,” he said.
“But at the moment, we are deficient in areas which I would prioritise over a superstar driver.
“So if Alonso came to drive for us, we would make full use of him and we’d work well with him.
“We’d give him what we needed, there’s no doubt about it, but if we had to pay his salary, we may not eat for a year.”
It’s also a bit of a polite backhand to the kind of salaries top drivers get when you consider them as part of a smaller team’s budget. In Williams F1’s case, it would take a toll on Pat’s ability to enjoy the find catering the team provide on race weekends and we can’t have that…we need Pat fueled and ready for war.
Williams F1 have always seemed to have a very practical approach and in some cases, sought the pay-driver solution to supplement their racing efforts. Having finished second and third in the Constructor’s Championship in the last two years respectively, they may not need to pay-driver as much as they have in the past but that still doesn’t mean they are flush with Alonso money.
There is, then, this thought of McLaren and why they would pay for both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button given they knew they had a challenging road ahead with limited expectations of winning titles as soon as they would like to.
Some may argue the feedback you get from a top driver would eclipse that of a young gun and that experience is part of what you are buying when you pay Alonso money. What time I spent in the Ferrari garage told me that they team may feel that the kind of feedback and work ethic they are getting from Sebastian Vettel is above that of what they had experienced with Alonso or even Kimi Raikkonen. That’s not a definitive or measured position, just an impression I got from the team while watching and speaking with them. Clearly a team willing to pay Vettel money for the benefits it brings.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT