Williams optimistic but would a Honda engine be better?

As Williams head into the 2016 season, you’d expect the team to have a lot of optimism about their chances although they were bested to second place by Ferrari in 2015 and both were beaten by Mercedes.

The chance to take the fight to not only Ferrari but Mercedes as well seems like a daunting task yet the team feel positive about their chances as Felipe Massa said:

“I think so, that is what we are working for,” he told Sky Sports when asked if he could win in 2016.

“We are really near, we were on the podium a few times last year and maybe more times the year before in 2014 and we really hope we can get back to the victories, get back to a car that is really competitive to fight for the victory. I really hope it can be possible.”

Team technical director Pat Symonds feels equally optimistic and suggests that there are some achilles heel areas for Mercedes:

“I’m not an optimistic person but I know the improvements we’ve made to the car are greater than we made last year,” he said.

“I have to say I am quite pleased with the improvements on paper that we’ve made with the car.”

There is, however, a different view of Williams F1’s prospect on finding any chink in the Mercedes armor or a way around them to to the top step of podium as former Williams man and world champion Damon Hill suggested:

“I sort of suggested to Claire [Williams] last year that the problem is they have the same engine as the Mercedes team and that is always going to be a barrier between them winning a championship and Mercedes themselves winning a championship,” Hill said.

“I think as a team wanting to win the outright championship strategically they would be better off with another engine and I think the only other engine you can think of is a Honda.

“I would have liked to have seen Williams opt to go with the Honda engine, I think Honda are going to fight back.

“They had an absolutely catastrophic year last year, but they learnt a lot, I could be wrong, but if they make the sort of impression they should do, then for Williams to get ahead of Ferrari and Mercedes they are going to have to have a different engine to the Mercedes team.”

The point here is a good one if you look at the reality that a Mercedes, or Ferrari for that matter, customer is never going to have the exact software, engine mapping and latest iteration of their manufacturer engine.

it is what McLaren CEO Ron Dennis alluded to when he suggested that you have to have a manufacturer behind you to win the title and he chose Honda. While many have berated the team for their miserable season, at least Ron is doing it right and recreating his successful manufacturer partnership that delivered Mercedes-fueled titles in the late 90’s. With Honda, good or bad, he has a chance to overhaul Mercedes and Ferrari…Williams do not.

For Williams F1, though, it hasn’t always seemed like the team are intent on simply winning a title but making a complete racing business that sustains its employees and creates spin-off technology opportunities and businesses. Would they like to win the title? Sure but they are probably also happy with finishing 3rd in the championship.

Surely they would have liked to finish second in 2015 but third is handy when you’re in F1 and to Damon’s point, I’m not sure overhauling Mercedes will ever occur but then again, Mercedes were not willing to chance it in the hands of Adrian Newey and Red Bull so perhaps they feel the right chassis could beat them and we all know Pat Symonds knows his way around a good chassis design.

Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1 and Reuters and Sky Sports F1

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Paul KieferJr

Would I like to win if I had a different engine? Absolutely! Being a guy that sells the engine that they build for the works team sort of presents a conflict of interests. However, I’m not sure that Honda would be the one that makes the trip to the front.

Tom Firth

Agree with Damon in that they probably need to at some point leave Mercedes-Benz for another engine supplier and as Honda is the only one not associated with a works entry, it makes sense.

That said, I think Williams needs more time on processes at the front of the grid, to be in a position to challenge for a title, before it makes the engine manufacturer switch to do so, and still have reservations that Ron would allow them better tech than Merc.


I think there is a bit of agreement in the comments, Williams probably need a bit more time to consolidate the gains they have made in the past few seasons. Between losing the Honda engines in 1998, and getting the Mercedes p.u’s in 2014, Williams were going steadily backwards through the grid. I’d imagine that experience (and its financial impacts) will have made them a bit cautious about bailing out of a really competitive p.u supply for a half chance (or less) of what may eventually be a better one. Williams are punching well above their weight to have secured… Read more »

Marti J Powell BSc

Sorry BUT RD HAS right to veto ANY other Honda supply – WITHOUBT doubt RD will NEVER allow Honda to supply to Williams !!!

Andreas Möller

Damon Hill is probably correct in saying that as long as Mercedes has their own factory team, any customers would have a hard time beating them. To do that, you’d need to have a much better chassis and aero package, and the Mercedes definitely is no slouch in that department either. So in that sense, Honda might be a better bet. But only if you discount their performance this season, thinking they’ll soon catch up. And you’d also need to be sure the Honda-McLaren contracts doesn’t contain any “factory team” clauses, giving McLaren first dibs on any developments. Plenty of… Read more »


Williams can forget wins, they are using customer Merc engines so unless Lewis, Rosberg or Seb screw it up they will be 3rd 4th or 5th end of 2016 championship depending on how well RedBull or Mclaren go. They need to start talking to BMW or another engine manufacture as Mclaren so bravely did and will come good. Still Williams got paid around £70m in prize money in 2014 for coming 3rd so maybe for a public listed company Claire Williams is happy. If Frank and Patrick were running the F1 team today they would not have settled for a… Read more »

Marti J Powell BSc

Please GO BACK to school
Re:…They would of rather …

Makes NO sense . ??? What/whom IS who to be of ???

>Do U ever read more than a cereal box ??

I think you are trying to say – They would HAVE rather …

Tom Firth

We have a rule here called decorum and civility by which the community abides by.

Please refrain from personal attacks towards others. Thank you.


Autosport have an annual analysis of the cost of F1, detailing what each team receives from the FIA and sponsors, and what they spend.
For 2015 Williams received £110 million, spent £110 million but had carried a loss of £30 Million from 2014. There is only one team on the grid that makes a profit from F1, most break even and a few make a loss.

Troy F Collins

First off……Williams(if a switch was in the cards) wouldnt be the de facto number one team..they would be second in line to Mclaren The Mercedes power unit has proven to be the best bet for a customer team so far Lets not forget the Honda effort was plenty far off the mark to start with….. showed absolutely no progress all season…and was completely unreliable I’d like to wax on about the old days and 15 out of 16 wins in ’88 But lets face it until Honda show up ready to challenge in 2016…they have flattered with their history… only… Read more »


They need to go back to the one homologated engine design for the year idea (and perhaps the baked in advantages that entailed). The software might not be the same across the customers but everyone will have the same components, none of this works team gets the best bits first nonsense.

Junipero Mariano

I think that advantage Mercedes and Ferrari have is not in just getting the latest components and software, it’s that they can take a holistic approach to developing the car, everything is under one roof. Williams is known for great innovation at a reasonable cost. Getting the most out of a turbocharged 1.6L engine is pretty well sorted at this point. What if they could find an engine manufacturer that could make a engine for them and they integrate the rest of the hybrid system using proprietary methods and parts? It would be similar to what Red Bull would be… Read more »


Williams are the one team who could possibly do a better job than the manufacturer with the ERS software. They have a vast amount of experience within the group thanks to Formula E, they were noticeably more fuel efficient than Mercedes back in 2014, so they are not afraid to try something different. If they can sort out the sticking wheel nuts and get all the tyre compounds to work effectively then they could win. It wasn’t lack of power that saw them lose the lead at Silverstone last year.

The Sarcastic SOB

Daft idea from Hill. Only teams that want to finish dead last for the next 2 years should go to Honda.


First paragraph: “they”, not “there”.

Second paragraph: “Massa”, not “Mass”.

Sixth paragraph: “alluded”, not “eluded”.

You’ve got a great F1 web site. You do it, and your readers, a disservice by not insuring your spelling and grammar are correct. Spell-check only checks spelling, not the incorrect use of properly spelled words.

Negative Camber

Thanks for the catch. typos are typical with me as I write when I am on the road in a small Surface Pro and often times I am in a hurry. FBC is not my day job. With that comes typos and I do try to catch them but appreciate when others point them out. Sometimes I post using a mobile app and that’s really dodgy. :)


Wow, You do this in addition to a full time job singing the national anthem at cock fights?
Just joking, I’m honestly impressed by your efforts and wish I could figure out how to get by on as little sleep as you must. Thanx for your effort.

Michael Redfern

Why aren’t Williams out there chasing an engine of their own? I remember when the new engine regs came in it was supposed to attract new and different manufacturers like Hyundai and Mitsubishi.


Because the debacle that was Honda’s debut chases manufacturers away – not attract them.

Combine that with F1 talking about another change to the engine spec for 2017, even though they haven’t agreed to anything, and then another for 2020 and it doesn’t make financial sense for a manufacturer to enter F1. Why spend several years and tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars developing an engine that F1 will look to dump sometime in the next year or three?

Michael Redfern

I can’t argue that point, which is why I subscribe to run what you bring policy. Run whatever you want be it turbo, supercharged or NA. Use KERS or not it doesn’t matter. Any kind of engine config you like but your limited to an agreed upon power figure.