If I were a team boss and I had secured the constructor’s championship position that I felt was unassailable yet impossible to gain more, I might stop spending money on my car and focus on 2016 too. That’s apparently what Williams did in 2015 and given the team’s performance in the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, it was painfully clear that this was the case.
It’s understandable and given the amount of money teams spend on development, you could afford some leeway on the decision as they felt they could achieve no more than 3rd in the championship but they had sufficiently locked their place in without threat of losing it. Team performance chief, Rob Smedley, said:
“The last few events we haven’t gone as well as we would have liked,” said Smedley.
“We stopped development on this car quite a long time ago having projected we would have a comfortable third position in the championship and second wasn’t going to be possible.
“So naturally what we’re seeing is due to the fact we haven’t developed the car in such a long time.
“The end of the season has been slightly lacklustre compared to last year. But last year, we developed the car right up until the last moment.
“This year, having consolidated third, our focus switched to 2016 and 2017.”
Fair enough but as a fan, I must say that I feel like we were shortchanged on watching Williams push until the end to try and make gains. Was it possible to do so? Perhaps not so my criticism carries little water given the circumstances. It’s a sign of the times in F1 when Mercedes are so comprehensively dominant that Williams has no hope of gaining ground on them. That’s nothing new in F1 but given their massive points haul in the Italian Grand Prix and the sharp fall off from then on, it’s a bit of a bummer.
It’s not realistic to expect the top four or five teams to all be battling for wins but to be honest, I think that’s exactly what fans want to see. Now, teams may not like hearing that and the reality of it happening is slim but perhaps the sport needs to consider that fans want something different from F1 and if it would like to hold appeal, perhaps they should consider it.
When prize money became to majority or sole source of income for teams, all things changed and teams who could demand a bigger portion of that money hobbled teams who couldn’t. This left smaller teams, who pride themselves on being in the sport as true racers, hanging in the wind and without means to develop their cars to have any real chance of winning races. Even with the best engine on the grid, Williams were unable to battle for race wins on any sort of consistent basis.
Being the case, Williams F1 decided to throw in the towel when they felt their place in the championship was secured and started focusing their limited resources on next year’s car—I can’t say I blame them. Mercedes had already secured the title and Ferrari were in no real danger of passing Mercedes so the fan at home can’t help but feel the last seven or so races were simply going through the motions. Again, that’s nothing new in F1 but should the sport consider what it’s producing and design an all-new rule book and format to appeal to younger fans?
That’s a tall order for any regulatory and commercial rights body to undertake and when the series is now being ran by engine manufacturers, it makes things even more difficult. If the series was replete with different engine suppliers, tire suppliers and perhaps some standard equipment that limited gross development-spend, it could help. I say help as I doubt it would solve all the issues the sport faces.
I’ve said it before, the two things that I feel are impacting the sport in a negative way is the new frozen hybrid engine—even though it is a technological marvel—and the constructs such as HD tires and DRS. Surely a sport with the intelligence that is involved can craft sporting and technical regulations that would produce a series with high-tech cars that are more competitive?
It would require selflessness from all the players in F1 and unfortunately the money involved is too big to promote that “we have to do what’s best for the sport” type of attitude. At this point I feel that only the fans can effect change of that sweeping magnitude and it’s only going to happen when their backs are turned as survey after survey does little to convince the series to change.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT