Mid-season report – They might have established themselves as having the slickest pit stop team on the grid, but the Williams team have fallen off the pace of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing in 2016.
A few years ago, a season in which they are consistently scoring points (they’ve only failed to finish in the top ten once this season – the British Grand Prix) would’ve been considered a successful campaign. However, they’ve been unable to achieve the results that were obtained in the first season of the turbocharged V6 era, where podiums were commonplace and wins were mere seconds away.
With two third place finishes in the constructors’ championship in the last two seasons, the Mercedes-powered Williams team could be forgiven for thinking that another top three – or maybe even a top two – constructors’ placing would be doable.
What has actually happened was the team have been fighting for points finishes, and have only had glimpses of being able to challenge the established top three teams. Despite both Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas scoring in all of the first five races, they were quickly fixed as the fourth-fastest team.
The Canadian Grand Prix marked their only podium of the season so far with Bottas securing a well-executed third place finish. Since then, Williams have only managed a best of sixth place and have been forced to start looking behind them with a charging Force India team eyeing up the fourth-place constructors’ championship place.
Their better results have generally come at the lower-downforce ‘power’ tracks, something which we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from the team in the last couple of seasons. Their weaknesses haven’t really changed from 2014, though. The team typically have less success where downforce is required and this also translates into poor wet weather performance. At the wet British Grand Prix, both Massa and Bottas struggled to control their cars as they went backwards during the race, taking the team’s only non-score of the season.
They can be pleased, however, with their pit stop efforts. They won the DHL pit stop award in all of the first nine races and have taken the accolade in ten out of twelve races, boasting a best pit stop time of an astonishing 1.92 seconds. That particular pit stop can be found on DHL’s official YouTube channel here.
Immediately after the summer break, the Belgian and Italian Grand Prix circuits should benefit Williams, where they’ll be hoping to back in podium contention but, with a gap of 146 points to make up to third place, ultimately they will be looking to make fourth place secure and concentrate on building for next season. They’ll also be looking to make a decision on their driver line-up, with neither Bottas or Massa confirmed for next season, and Jenson Button linked with a drive. Can Williams impress enough to secure the services of a world championship-winning driver?