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F1 Opinion 10

Williams’ secret ingredient

Williams, rejoice, rejoice, won the Spanish Grand Prix. What a difference an engine makes. Or does it? Caterham, too, has the Renault engine and they are far from winning.

In modern times all engines are good. Some do say that the Mercedes has the edge, but not by much. Engine builders are notoriously secretive, detailed figures from the dyno rarely made public. In times gone by a motor could make the difference. Ferrari made some very potent V12s, Matra built a great engine and Cosworth, as we know, produced a mighty V8. These days it’s all about aerodynamics.

opinion  Williams secret ingredient

What does make a difference is a bad engine, but there are not many of those these days. It is sometimes said that the Cosworth is less ‘driveable’ than others and certainly Williams was keen to get its hands on a Renault ahead of the forthcoming return of turbos. Now only HRT and Marussia run a Cosworth in F1 and the engine is the least of their problems.

So what, if anything, can we deduce from the return to form of the Williams team?

I sense that, in no particular order, we can point to the arrival of Mike Coughlan, vastly improved aerodynamics, some new and very clever personnel in key positions, a vigorous desire to recover and, of course, that Renault engine that has served Red Bull so well these past few seasons.

opinion  Williams secret ingredient

We are currently in the middle of an engine freeze, with only minor ‘amendments’ allowed, so the people matter very much. And when it comes to people, a strong and motivated leader is a vital ingredient. Frank Williams does not do defeat, he never did, and he never will. His long-time partner Patrick Head has stepped aside but his legacy is there for all to see in the integrity and quality of the engineering. And then there’s the money, ever crucial these days, and that has arrived in the form of drivers Maldonado and Senna plus renewed interest from sponsors. They may not win in Monaco this Sunday but they are back from the brink.

opinion  Williams secret ingredient

The victory in Barcelona, coming when Frank was celebrating his 70th birthday and after eight lean years, was universally popular. The fire in the garage was a cruel interruption in what should have the day of days, the night of nights for a party. We sent our best wishes, of course, trying to convey the way we felt for them. At the end of last week the leader himself sent out an email thanking us for our support and sympathy, and expressing his relief that all the injured had now returned safely to Grove. Frank Williams is one of a handful of people who would have done that.

It is not about the engine, or the aero, or the money. They have to be in place. It is about a raging desire to win, bloody hard work, and, in the case of Sir Frank Williams, a lifelong passion for his team and his sport.

Call me sentimental but, I tell you, it is not commonplace to see the universal joy for a winner we saw in Barcelona.

Of course, if they keep on winning, the joy along the pitlane will quite rapidly evaporate. That’s racing.

Add your comments

10 comments on Williams’ secret ingredient

  1. John Saviano, 22 May 2012 14:39

    Spot on. If there’s any team that truly personifies the F1 spirit, it’s Williams. Thru thick and thin, they keep at it. Sometimes they have the best solution, sometimes not, but it doesn’t keep them from focusing on racing. While some teams seem to live for the PR, the celebrities, the inter-team squabbles, etc, Williams is all about getting to, or staying at, the top.

  2. Piero Dessimone, 22 May 2012 17:24

    I agree 100%. I have been a Williams supporter since Jacques Laffite was 2nd at the Nurburgring in 1975. They are hard professionals deserving to be at the top.

  3. John Hill, 23 May 2012 08:19

    I am so pleased and relieved about their win. I had this horrible felling that they were going to go the same way as many of the great teams, Lotus, Tyrrell and Brabham, etc and fade into oblivion. So well done Williams, please keep it up.

  4. Mike, 23 May 2012 18:15

    Well done Williiams
    But personally
    What I shame that Rubens wasnt the man to do it for them
    A great driver and a very nice guy

  5. Alberto Fuentes, 24 May 2012 16:09

    The arrival of Mike Coughlan, is anyhow related with the departure of Sam Micheals ? What can we expects from him (Sam) in McLarens ?

  6. Don Larsen, 27 May 2012 04:31

    It is interesting that with Sam Micheals off to Mac, that team has gone from a seamless, error-free zone to a bunch who make a lot of stupid mistakes. That fuel load screw up in Spain almost certainly cost Lewis Hamilton the win, plus pit stop Keystone Kop imitations.
    As nice and enthusiastic a guy as Barichello is, he wasn’t getting it done anymore, and I’m not sure the result would have been the same with him in the car.
    You have to appreciate Williams, though, even in the depths of the last few years they never gave up or in.
    RBR is a company that uses racing as a marketing tool, Williams is a racing team that finds the money to get at the best they can. Good on ‘em

  7. Tony Geran, 28 May 2012 01:22

    Yes it was great to see Williams score an overdue win, but what do we think of Maldonado’s antics at Monaco? Talk about going from hero to zero in one fell swoop.

  8. rob widdows, 28 May 2012 08:40

    Many thanks everybody or your comments and for responding to m most recent ramblings. Nice to see the support for Williams ad not just from us Brits.
    Yes, Maldonado did himself no favours at Monaco and caused the team, who were already under pressure, a great deal of work and expense. He needs to take a good, hard look at what happened and make sure there is no repeat. Silly mistakes are one thing, driving into another car is quite different. Let’s hope he learns from a terrible weekend.
    RW

  9. tonyb, 28 May 2012 10:01

    I agree, Is it just a coincidence that Williams rise, and Maclarens decline have happened after Sam Micheals move.
    Makes you wonder!!!
    Do any insiders know something we don’t?

  10. rob widdows, 28 May 2012 15:31

    I remain convinced that the performance of the 2012 Williams Grand Prix car is due to the arrival of Coughlan, vastly improved aerodynamics and a very good engine from Renault.
    It is far too early – and a quantum leap – to talk about Sam’s move to McLaren. Problems in team are never, or very rarely, down to any individual. It appears that lots of little procedure details have been the cause of recent disappointment.
    I think you will see McLaren fighting for the title this year. There is a long, long way to go!
    RW

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