This is the time of the season (well really before the season actually) when there is a possibility that each and every constructor can actually win a championship or at the very least a race. Well, almost everyone. Hm, make that at least half of the grid. Perhaps only four manufacturers, to be honest. Ok, now that I really think about it probably only three as it stands right now.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams are probably the only teams that could win a grand prix this year on merit. Sure Red Bull, Force India, or Toro Rosso could also win a Grand Prix, but they would more than likely luck into it. And since Mercedes will probably win at the very least races if not the championship again, and Ferrari has already beaten the Mercs a couple times last year and will most likely repeat that again this year, it is Williams that I will be looking to for regular podiums and that first (real) win in a long time. I am not including the win by Pastor Maldonado in Spain back in 2012 since it was clearly a one-off.
No, Williams F1 has not won a race based on its true competitiveness in a very, very long time. In 2014 they came close, Austria comes to mind, there were a few others. There have been a couple of races in 2015 where tire strategy worked against them. Whether this was just bad luck or bad decisions we will never know. There have also been a few less than stellar pit stops but let’s not dwell.
One thing is for sure, Williams lost a step last year to Ferrari. While I think it is a tall order to get that back, in regards to aero anything is possible. I am still of the opinion that horsepower aside, (in a few years the four current manufacturers will all be on par with each other more or less) and at that point it is the wind tunnel where championships will be won and lost.
Rob Smedley seems genuinely convinced his squad has found something (by the way I have read the same sentiments from Pat Symonds as well in a separate article) and that bodes well for Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas not to mention the guys and gals back at the factory and finally Sir Frank himself.
I would like nothing more than for the one of the most celebrated names in F1 to really and truly get back to the days of fighting for race wins and a constructors’ title.
I recently ran across a photo of Sir Frank and Ron Dennis (whom I believe has also been recognized by the crown) facing each other having a chat. One in his techie wheelchair (you know it most be a honor for whichever Williams team member gets the assignment to design and build the boss’s seat at Williams F1), the other sitting on the steps of hospitality center where all the teams set up.
Oh, the stories these two could tell. What struck me about the photo was the genuine respect the two where showing for each other. In that photo I see not wealthy F1 team owners, not even championship winning F1 team owners (between the two the number of constructor and driver titles is staggering), not even two F1 team owners that have survived F1’s ups, downs and transitions when many others have flunked out, but just two chaps that love motor racing and love what they are doing.
I rather like that and hope that Lady Luck rewards their years of devotion with some wins this year so we can see these two explaining their victories instead of their losses. McLaren is very tbd but Williams could bring it this year. Go Williams!