2010 F1 season preview: Williams

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Williams have two new drivers and Cosworth power for 2010

With rivals Toyota gone and big changes at Renault and Sauber, Williams should at least be at the front of the midfield pack in 2010.

But can they raise their game and finally get back among the front runners this year?

Car design

While other teams have talked about their cars being an evolution of last year’s model, Williams say the FW32 is a clean sheet design intended to make a big step forward from last year’s car.

Despite some reliability problems the new Williams covered more ground in testing than any other team bar Ferrari.

As with the other teams, it’s hard to gauge from testing just how quick Williams are. New driver Nico Hulkenberg topped the testing times on his final day in the car, but that was on a low fuel run.

How successful it is will partly be determined by how powerful and reliable the Cosworth V8 is. Williams are returning to Cosworth power after three years using Toyota engines.

Driver line-up

Although Williams have lost the services of the promising Nico Rosberg, the conclusion of their Toyota deal means that Kazuki Nakajima is no longer in the other car. One driver scoring zero points while the other gets 34.5 was never going to be the best way of going racing.

In their place Williams have combined the most experienced F1 driver of all time – Rubens Barrichello – with the driver who stands out as the most promising of 2010’s rookies.

Hulkenberg arrives in F1 off the back of championship victories in GP2 and F3 Euroseries in successive seasons. The last driver to manage that was Lewis Hamilton.

He’s been with Williams in a junior capacity for a couple of seasons and got about as much mileage in the car as a reserve driver can these days.


It may take a while for the new driver pairing to gel, but there’s a lot to like about the Williams duo.

Barrichello tended to trail Jenson Button on race day last year but he had some very strong race performances and usually qualified well. Hulkenberg showed impressive speed, tyre sensitivity and maturity on his way to the GP2 title last year.

Williams have not been able to spend as much as the bigger teams in recent years and although that hasn’t changed for 2010 the Resource Restriction Agreement may help keep the others in reach.


There will inevitably be reliability worries with a substantially new design and that seems to have been borne out in testing.

The Cosworth engine is an unknown quantity – it may prove powerful, frugal and completely reliable, but if it’s significantly behind in any one of those areas the team could have a problem.

Poll: championship position

What’s your prediction for where Williams will finish in the 2010 F1 season? Cast your vote below.

Where will Williams finish in the 2010 Constructors' Championship?

  • 13th (0%)
  • 12th (0%)
  • 11th (0%)
  • 10th (1%)
  • 9th (1%)
  • 8th (3%)
  • 7th (8%)
  • 6th (24%)
  • 5th (41%)
  • 4th (14%)
  • 3rd (4%)
  • 2nd (2%)
  • 1st (2%)

Total Voters: 1,932

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See all the articles in the F1 Fanatic 2010 Season Preview

2010 F1 season

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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79 comments on “2010 F1 season preview: Williams”

  1. Unfortunately, I don’t see Williams getting back to their winning ways. I don’t think the Cosworth engine will be powerful enough.

    1. maybe not winning, but rubens will be good for them, he’s worth his weight in gold with the knowledge and experience he can deliver to the team.

      1. I’ll second that,

  2. I’d love to seem them win a race again, and this is potentially their strongest lineup for a while. I voted 6th but have hastily changed my opinion to say they will come 5th. Sauber could be a threat at the start of the year, but they’ll need sponsor’s to keep the pace up, and Force India look quick but Sutil is hardly the next Heidfeld.

    1. No reserve role at Merc for Sutil then, eh?

      1. I mean in terms of being able to finish races, not overall speed.

    2. Since they split with BMW, Williams have never been able to keep the development up even as they start the season strongly. For example in 2006 they got both cars in the points in Bahrain, locked out the second row of the grid in Malaysia but then tailed off as poor reliability and a lack of development began to bite them. In 2008 Rosberg got on the podium in Melbourne but never looked like running near the front again until his fortuitous second place in Singapore.

      I think Williams will be strong at the beginning of the year, maybe even managing a podium or two if enough cars from the top four teams have problems, but they will quickly fall to the back of the midfield by the end of the year. I reckon they’ll be eighth.

  3. I think this year the teams could be divided into three groups in the Constructers’ Championship. First there will be Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes then the rest of the established teams in the second group then the new teams in the final group.

    I think that Williams will be 5th, leading the second group behind the top four.

    The driver line-up, while obviously not the best overall on the grid is still relatively good, there is no one more experienced than Barrichello and he showed last year that he still has what it takes to win, and Hulkenberg should be the best of the rookies.

    The main question mark for Williams will be the Cosworth engine’s overall performance, it seems to be okay for power but what about reliability and fuel efficiency compared with the other engines?

    I doubt they will achieve their first win since 2004 unless there are special circumstances but I would love to see Williams back at the front again.

    1. “I think that Williams will be 5th, leading the second group behind the top four.”
      – I doubt it. Sauber have looked a lot better during testing. And I think Renault are also faster, and have more potential for improvement.
      So 7th place for Williams in my book.

      1. Ned Flanders
        5th March 2010, 19:14

        Normally I wouldn’t judge a car by it’s appearence, but judging by Sauber’s current livery they are going to be in trouble in 2010. If they have no sponsors, no 2009 TV money and no money from BMW (if that is the case), how are they going to afford to go racing??

        Another thing- Sauber have possibly the worst driver line up on the grid (except HRT and mabye Toro Rosso), whereas Williams arguably have one of the best. So I fully expect Williams to come out on top this season

        1. One of the best driver lineups? must be kidding :) i value more kamui then both rubens and nico together :/

          and i hope im not wrong about kamui, but he looks extremely promising.

          for me williams will be 8yh maybe, mainly because very average drivers.

          1. Ned Flanders
            5th March 2010, 20:30

            I remain to be convinced by Kobayashi… if he destroys de la Rosa I’ll be impressed, but if he gets beat by him surely his career will be over… if I remember rightly the only team mate de la Rosa has ever beat was Tora Takagi, and that doesn’t take much!

          2. I hope Kamui does well, I agree with Statix that he looks promising, but like you say Ned, he’s still got to prove himself. If I were a betting man, i’d say he will be outshining de la Rosa by the end of the year.

          3. Kobayashi? Based on what? 2 races? Hulkenberg won the first A1 GP championship for Germany while he was still a child, cleaned up in F3, then did 2 rounds in GP2 Asia, got pole both times and won once, on the podium for the other, then won the “true” GP2 Championship at his first go. What was Kobayashi doing at this point? Losing perhaps?

            Barrichello vs Kobayashi? You’re joking, right, statix….

          4. Now I won’t be as harsh as Toby, I think Kamui has the potential from what we saw last year to beat De la Rosa fair and square, But he just doesn’t have past results that Hulk has to back up your claims.

            Kamui will need several years before he can compare to Rubens and Rosberg even with fantastic performances.

            As for Renault, I think they will at least be slow at the start, but I think that will do alot of damage as my impression, is that Kubica can be, temperamental.

            I wouldn’t under estimate Buemi, he has some potential in him, also Jaime, His experience in an F1 car is still quite low, in fact I would expect that up until a few years ago, most rookies would have more experience even than he has now. I think he will improve this year.

          5. Average drivers? Hülkenberg totally destroyed Kobayashi in GP2, he dominated that series in his rooky season whilst Kobayashi already did a season of GP2. Sure, Kobayashi showed talent in those final 2 races, but Hülkenberg even looks impressive next to Hamilton in the lower series and that does count for something. With Barrichello, the most experienced F1 driver ever, teaching him the ways of F1, I do think they have one of the best driver lineups, definetly stronger than Sauber judging by their past results. The reliability and the engine might be a problem but as both drivers seem to be happy with the engine, I think they will be very strong in the second half of this year. They will need to get rid of the babyfat on the car, but with Rubens’ experience and the Hulk’s talent I think they’ll be 5th. Not quite as good as the top 4 teams (although they might start stronger than Mercedes), but stronger than Toro Rosso, Sauber etc.

          6. ok guys you are right. average drivers was not a good description as we do not know how will perform nico. he is a talent, he had good years in other series… OTHER series… this is f1 and im looking forward how he will perform. for kamui i have big expectations.

        2. Oh ho ho… hang on here! Worst line up? Kamui showed brilliant talent in the last 2 races of 09. If you remember! And Toro Rosso have a better line up than Lotus and HRT! HRT are a totally unknown quantity though. I have no expectations from that team or their drivers yet (happy abt Karun landing an F1 drive, but that’s about it!).

          Sauber were better at testing from what I understand, thought their sponsorship remains unsolved and that could handicap development through the season.

          STR are fast this year and faster than Williams as I see it.

          Then there’s Force India who look faster than Sauber, Williams and STR, forget Renault.

          So, I don’t see a 5th for Williams yet, Force India are fighting fiercely for that spot and it’ll be tough to take it from them. And I suspect they’ll even give the big four considerable trouble too.

          1. Do you guys really rate Trulli so badly? Keep in mind the only reason the term Trulli train was coined was because he got that dog of a car higher up on the grid than it deserved.

            And he outpaced Glock, simply put.

  4. Ned Flanders
    5th March 2010, 18:13

    I’ve found it pretty difficult to get excited about Williams lately. Since 2003 they’ve been so mediocre and anonymous. They’ve only scored 3 podiums since mid 2005, and each one was pretty flukey, in races of attrition on temporary circuits.

    Think of all the teams to have won a race, or even scored a pole, since Williams last managed either: Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Brawn, Honda, Toyota, Toro Rosso, BMW Sauber, Force India, Renault… practically every team that’s raced in the past 5 seasons!

    Then again, a driver line up of Barrichello- Hulkenberg looks like their most promising driver line up since the days of Ralf Schumacher (when he was still good!), Montoya and Button. Surely the only way is up for Williams now…

    1. The last time Williams scored a point was at the 2009 Brazilian GP. So that’s 1 race since then that they didn’t win at (Abu Dhabi)…

      As for winning a race, they’ve come closer than Toyota did for a fraction of the budget…

      1. Yo, Adrian! Did you even read what Ned posted?

  5. I think Williams will feel some pressure from Sauber and Force India in the early stages of the season, but half-way in it only they and Renault with be able to at least mingle with the big four.

  6. Last year they had the worst engine of all with the Toyota engine. Reportedly this cost them 0.3s per lap.

    So their car must have been good. Not sure why they started from a clean sheet.

    I voted 5th, but now hat I think of it, they tend to have the 5th fastest car on the grid and then end up 7th or 8th in the constructors championship anyway.

    They have something going wrong in their race strategy department. Like last year when they made some huge tactical blunders with Rosberg. Rosberg got most of the blame for those failures initially, but amazingly Williams came clean and explained where and how they had gotten it wrong. That shows true class.

    Of course this year they should have 2 good drivers as opposed to just one. Although Hulkenberg will probably need some time to get fully up to speed. When he does get up to speed however, he tends to be fast.

    I’m hoping they finally get it right this year and that they actually do get that 5th spot.

    1. “Last year they had the worst engine of all with the Toyota engine. Reportedly this cost them 0.3s per lap.”

      Incredible times we live in :-) I remember the days when having ‘the worse engine of all’ meant lacking some 100hp (or more) and 2,3 or more seconds per lap…

      1. Yeah I guess. In the end it doesn’t matter if the gap is 3 tenths or 3 seconds per lap though. In the end you still lose :)

    2. I imagine they had to redesign the back of the car to get the new engine in, maybe they found some flaws with the old design too, who knows?

  7. 13th is impossible =P

    1. And yet 6 peeps voted for 13

      Think they were just being funny?

      1. Well so far by my reckoning, McLaren, Williams and Ferrari will all be fighting for that 13th spot…

        1. people probably vote 13th when they just want to see the results without having to vote.

          1. You can just click “view results” for that …

          2. I said it before, If by a series of unlikely events all three of these teams do come 13th, who’s gonna be smug then eh? (still, that would get good odds eh?)

  8. tbh it should be an easy 5th place for them but if they push it they could get 4th depending how dominant the big 4 are this season.

  9. red bull tastes like crap
    5th March 2010, 18:37

    5th or 6th should be. I hope they get a victory, even if, out of luck.
    It’s the team i most admire. They are decent racers, that sometimes don’t make the right decisions, but don’t get into poltics, and love the sport, as we do.

    1. good comment.

  10. The middle group is possibly the hardest to predict. My gut tells me 6th behind Force India, but my brain says that any one among those two, Renault and Sauber can end up 5th – it’ll be all about development for the engineers and consistency for the drivers. The team that has the best of both will top the group. (mind you that’s true of the top teams too, so that’s how much that’s worth.)

  11. No clue but I’m awaying more towards 4-6th. Toyota engines weren’t great and I think Cosworth should be a step up in terms of power (Head said they didn’t have any worries on that front in an interview not so long ago). However, Cosworth have been out of the loop a bit so they could have reliability issues and possibly need to work on fuel consumption which could cost them.

    I like their driver line up more than I have done for years. Rubens is meant to be technically excellent and he has the F1 bug still. Rubens did manage a podium in the wet in a dog of a Honda so maybe something mad could just happen again. While the Hulk is already rated as a future great although lack of testing will be a hindrance hopefully towards the end of the season he will find it easier.

  12. Salut Gilles
    5th March 2010, 18:45

    I’ll be pulling for them this year.

    I’m still a Button fan, and I hope we wins the WDC, but I just can’t bring myself to cheer for Mclaren in general.

    1. I’ve noticed Williams has quite a few fans this year, quite a popular line up.

  13. Aleksandar Serbia
    5th March 2010, 18:56

    He made strategic mistakes long ago not going the Mclaren way and building supercars, when he had the best drivers and chassis!
    As we see all the big teams are car builders only Frank thought this will always be a privateer series.
    But i always cheer for the underdog!
    Go Frank GO! :)

    1. are you forgetting about something…



      I voted 6th, I also like an underdog so I hope they push towards the top few teams this season!

      1. Aleksandar Serbia
        5th March 2010, 20:42

        Wow what a supercar, they were probably trembling at Mclaren and Ferrari, when they saw one ;)

        1. Yeah, I mean, It even has a 5 door version!

          Actually, are there any Ferrari 5 door cars?

  14. im expecting them to be best of the rest

    1. took the words out of my mouth

  15. TheGreatCornholio
    5th March 2010, 19:10

    I cant vote cos i access F1Fanatic via mobile but i would’ve put them 5th or 6th and then kept my fingers crossed! I got into F1 cos of our Nige so i have a big place in my heart for Williams and if pushed i’d have to give them fave status. You have to remember that unlike Force India, STR and even Virgin, Williams don’t have a billionaire backer to fund them so everything they do has to be paid for by what they bring in themselves. I know they have Wolf as in investor now but i’d bet he isn’t putting masses into the team! I’d love to see them sponsored by Canon again, that’d be seriously cool!

    1. I access F1Fanatic on my phone too. It takes a while to load, but the surveys work for me.

      1. TheGreatCornholio
        5th March 2010, 20:10

        I’ll have to try it out! Haven’t bothered since Keith updated the site:)

    2. How much £ does Frank Williams have?

      1. TheGreatCornholio
        6th March 2010, 20:10

        He’s wealthy but only from F1. Williams has always been run as a business but doubt it’ll ever achieve the heady heights of the late 80’s early 90’s.

  16. I think Williams and Sauber will be close throughout – I would also put money on Renault having another dreary season. But of course I could be wrong. Definitely backing Williams out of the whole midfield, and my heart tells me to back them out of the whole grid :D

  17. Could potentially be a boring season for Williams, with no BMWs or Toyotas to play with during races, the big 4 far ahead, and the rest behind.

    1. THE BIG 4 – it makes me sick… lets wait to bahrain and then go people and talk about big 4.

      1. Absolutely agree!

        1. okay, “the 4 teams with the biggest budgets.” ;)

          1. I agree – we will see how he chips fall when the racing starts. Some teams could be fast over one lap but unreliable or rude to tyres…

            The big 4 are self-proclaimed and we have yet to see them pull away from the others. While I think new teams will be in a league of their own (a minor one) performance of others could be more difficult to predict.

          2. In another thread I read a comment about Renault being right up there with budget circa. $300mil, unfortunately I can’t remember the thread, the exact amounts or evidence given,, nor who said it….

            it was a recent topic

      2. One comment that made made me smile!
        What is with the big 4??? I myself have referred to the big 4 at times but there aren’t really any big 4. They’re rather the most fav 4! There’s atleast 7 teams so close to each other that it’d stupid to say there are 4 teams who are the class! For starters, MercGP have been worse than Force India in testing! How does that make them one of the ‘Big 4’? Just because they won last year doesn’t mean that’s a guarantee! Its a different season and I think we’ve seen enough shocking rises and falls at the turn of a season to place a guarantee (either good or bad) on any of the established teams!
        So lets just hold our horses and let the cars do the talking come Bahrain!

  18. HounslowBusGarage
    5th March 2010, 19:52

    In an interview a couple of years ago, Patrick Head admitted that he and Sir Frank were getting “beyond our sell-by dates”, and I have been hoping that another personality would emerge at Williams to take up the reins. Not sure if anyone has emerged yet, but 2010 represents the biggest ‘start again’ opportunity for Williams for a long time.
    New drivers, new engine, new chassis, new sponsors too?
    I’d love them to come fourth, but six or seventh is probably more likely.

  19. although not a williams fan, i like them ’cause they’re an historic team and maybe one of the greatest future F1 stars (Hulkenberg). Definitely they deserve at least a 4th place, wish they beat mercedes but surely it will be hard.

  20. Rubens Barrichello World Champion in 2010 with Williams. I believe!!!

  21. 5th, aka best of the rest. Williams has the strongest lineup of the mid-packers. Sauber might have a better car, but De La Rosa has never been an exceptional driver (not bad, but not amazing either)

    1. Kobayashi could shock you!

      1. When he takes someone off?

        1. That wouldn’t be a shock, Patrick! :)

  22. Ahh ! I’ve just seen the BBC ad for F1. Is anyone else a bit disappointed with it ?

  23. 7th, I doubt that the car will be quick, but I hope Rubens have some good race with it.

  24. Williams is putting their money on Cosworth which is a new entry after some years,they should have gone with other engine suppliers to stay in the hunt for championship.

  25. 7th, behind Force India and Sauber. Cant imagine the Cosworth to be better than Mercedes or Ferrari. Incredible that so many here think it is.

  26. The success of Williams this year comes down to tyre management and Cosworth, in my opinion. The car seems very quick – probably quicker than most seem to estimate. But long run pace under race conditions? That’s the unknown. I don’t see any problem with the Cosworth engine power/performance-wise. So, fuel consumption may be the big issue, as reliability also seems to be good, judging by the mileage achieved in testing.

    Does the car use it’s tyres well enough, either way? We might see two Williams’ in the top ten (in Qualifying) at every round, but not many points to show for it, for example.

    It’s also good to see that the recent problems of driver disparity appear to be fixed. Make that 34.5 points from ’09 an even 69 this year and you’ve got a good package, I reckon. 4th or 5th in the Constructor’s for Williams, but they could go as high as 3rd if a: they get it right, or b: one of the “Big Four” (I hate that term) comes a cropper in warmer climes.

  27. I am looking forward to how NICO fairs in his debut season, he has been very dominant in all the categories he has participated so far..i just hope Rubens doesn’t go the Villeneuve way…found out by younger blood!!!

    I like williams because they have one of the better official sites.

    How about a review of the official sites of the teams.

    I know the f1 official site leaves a lot to be desired.

    1. Agree about Barrichello – always been a big fan of him and it will be nice to see him as the driver on top rather than playing second fiddle to world champions! (should be Williams’ main man anyway, but Hulkenberg looks promising!)

  28. drivers are bad

    behind renault for sure

    1. Yeah go Petrov….. ?

  29. One of the biggest weaknesses of the Williams team is the poor race strategy. To win races again they have to take a chance and realy go for it. But that seam to lack the balls to go anywhere beyond save. They have allways been slow in pitstops, carefull in fuell startegy. This will not have been changed and will cost them a load of points this year. Barrichello will not be able to turn this around (he never could turn around anything). That leaves Nico Hulkenberg. He could just be the one they need to get going again at Williams.

    1. I seem to remember Rosberg looked like he could have gone for a podium or high points at the start of several races last year, but it got halfway through the race and it was like ‘oh yeah, what happened to Rosberg?’. Seems strategy is definitely a weak point for Williams judging by the last few years!

      1. Yeah, for instance when they told Rosberg to “push push push” on his supersofts in Australia. After 8 laps his tyres were gone and the whole field passed him.

  30. I really hope Williams will be this years dark horse as they need good results with some of their major sponsorship contracts reportedly coming to an end this year, and thus the need to attract other big sponsor names…

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