Williams pin hopes on aggressive car for 2011

2011 F1 season preview

Posted on

| Written by


Car: FW33
#11 Rubens Barrichello
#12 Pastor Maldonado
Form 2006-2010: 8, 4, 8, 7, 6
2010 points: 69

A close look at the FW33 tells you a lot about what’s going on at Williams.

Its bodywork gives clues about the team’s sponsorship situation and the changes in their driver line-up.

And most importantly, you can see the innovations on the car the team hope will get them back to the front this year

First, the sponsors. Or rather, the lack of them.

Several big names have departed over the winter including RBS, Phillips and Green Flag.

Not all of them have been replaced. But the logo of Venezuela’s state-owned petrol company PDVSA features prominently.

Their backing has come courtesy of a change in the driver line-up that has already attracted much comment. Nico Hulkenberg, who ended Williams’ five-year pole position drought last year, has been dropped for Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado.

For obvious reasons Williams have received some criticism for this. But keep in mind Maldonado is the reigning GP2 champion – like Hulkenberg was and like Timo Glock, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg before them.

He may come with some financial backing and that may have played a role in him getting the driver. But you can’t argue he doesn’t deserve a shot at the top-flight. And he certainly has a stronger claim than Kazuki Nakajima did.

Still it’s a worrying reflection of Williams’ financial situation – to say nothing of Formula 1 in general – that a driver of Hulkenberg’s calibre has to make way for someone more sponsor-friendly.

The hard reality is F1 teams need money to survive – turn your attention to the back of the FW33 for evidence of that.

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Jerez, 2011

The team have developed – at some cost – their smallest ever gearbox to produce an extremely compact rear end on their car.

This and its low differential (note how steeply the rear axles are inclined towards the wheels) is designed to increase the effectiveness of the rear wing and boost downforce.

That may prove especially useful given how quickly rear tyres are going off with the new Pirelli compounds. But as ever it’s hard to get a reading on how well the car is working from testing times alone.

The team’s testing programme has suffered setbacks due to problems with their Kinetic Energy Recovery System. Such a problem has curtailed their running again this morning.

The flywheel KERS Williams developed for 2009 (but did not race) remains on the shelf – like their rivals the team are using a battery system this year.

It will fall to Rubens Barrichello to lead the team while Maldonado gets up to speed. But keep an eye out for the rookie at Monaco where he has a strong track record.

The team scraped sixth in the constructors’ championship last year, narrowly beating Force India – which is where Hulkenberg has ended up as a reserve driver.

Whether they can better that this year depends on just how quick and reliable their innovative car turns out to be.

2011 F1 season preview

Browse all 2011 F1 season preview articles

Images © Williams/LAT, F1 Fanatic

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

18 comments on “Williams pin hopes on aggressive car for 2011”

  1. A new livery, a radical rear end and some decent test times thus far. I’m hoping we shall see Williams on the podium a few times this year.

    1. On the other hand I don’t see Force India improving.

  2. I would expect Williams to be a tad better this year. That gearbox looks really good and quality innovation to me. They will be battling Sauber for position, possibly STR and FI will be fighting them.
    And if they are on the up, and Mercedes and McLaren not suddenly improving a lot, they could get the odd podium in this year.
    Still they need a lot more to get back to winner circle.

    1. SeattleChris
      10th March 2011, 0:48

      Even if Mclaren and Merc don’t even race, there are still two RBR’s and two Ferrari’s; i think it would be a longshot to see Williams on a podium this year. Hulkenberg was there best chance at doing anything like that and they couldn’t afford to keep him.

      Its funny how people react to sinking. Hulk had a chance to be something great, but they needed money… now they got enough to float a year, but are much worse off in terms of driver line-up. Maldy doesn’t have pole position speed!
      In the end, they dropped a long term solution/possibility to stay afloat short term and have no possibility. I expect that the team will not last to 2013 or 14. They will sell or fold. Sad. I like Williams.

      1. his_majesty
        10th March 2011, 2:26

        Are you kidding. You honestly think Hulk was better than Barri last year. What, because of a pole. Thats not even a race, it’s pole.. no points for pole. You’ve gotta finish. I will say it is a shame though, because he did have the IT factor. Give him another three years and a better team or williams of the 80s/90s yes, but barrichello is STILL a top notch driver. Williams sell by 2013 or 14, no I don’t think so. PDVSA wouldn’t allow that. Atleast you live in a cool city, my brother and some other fam lives there, but I think, or know that your predictions are incorrect.

  3. KERS certainly needs more work, but the rest of the car seems OK.

  4. Good luck Williams, let’s hope you can use the flywheel KERS in 2013.

  5. any Brit brought up in the era of Mansell will always have a soft spot for WIlliams but i fear for them. new car looks good and hopefully f1 will come back to them as cost cutting bites

  6. I don’t think it is as worrying as you make it out to be, Williams picking Pastor Maldonado over Hülkenberg. As you pointed out, the situation with Nakajima was worse and I think at the time they were also looking for sponsorship deals and made the deal with AT&T to add the name into the team name, but not for much money. I am not sure of how much money PDVSA are bringing to the table, but I would expect it to be a good deal.

    And one thing about Hülkenberg and the race in Brazil, he did start on pole, but created a Trulli train, one that included his teammate, showing that he was really off the pace at the start. The pole was great, the race not so much. The team did also stress that the only reason he got pole was because Barrichello had told him that conditions were right for the tires. I found that interesting since Williams immediate response was playing down Hülkenberg’s achievement and value.

    Franks goal is to run at the front, and attract drivers like Alonso and Kubica, the only way to do that is to build a winning car, which requires money. If Hülkenberg turns out to be a great driver in a few years, and Williams can get a winning car put together, maybe their paths will meet again ;)

    1. I agree, the Maldonaldo deal is really not a bad one for the team. Firstly, as you sate, he is GP2 champion. There is some genuine telent there, maybe not he fastest evern but he deservec=s a shot. Secondly, the rumors about he PDVSA sponsorship that I have heard make the deal a no-brainer. I have read that it is a three, maybe even five year deal, of about 30-35m a year. That is huge. That is enough, including the TV money, to sort the backbone of the teams budget. Add a few more sponsors and revenue from their over engineering arm, and williams have an opportunity to fight back up the grid over the course of the next few years.

      Hulkenberg did little alst year to show that he was brilliant, apart form one qualifying lap. Yes, it was spectacular, but realistically Williams know that maldonaldo is probably not much worse, maybe even better, certainly comparable, and indirectly linked they receive a huge new sponsor. Its a no-brainer.

  7. It should say “Williams pin hopes on aggressive car for 13th year running” as that’s all they ever say.

    I agree with everything you’ve said Keith. It’s quite worrying that they’re clearly not in the greatest financial position and had to pass on Hulk. There is some hope and I’d love them to bounce back but I can’t see them challenging for wins anytime soon. There last podium was at Singapore 08 never mind their last win. It’s such a shame because when Hulk grabbed pole at Brazil almost everyone was smiling despite whoever they were supporting for the title. It’s a team I really want to do well again but I can’t see it happening for a while but hopefully a crazy race will prove me wrong!

    1. Their financial position is now very stable, and for the coming years will continue to be so, thanks to PDVSA and maldonaldo. If you really support the team you will support this deal, because it is a huge sponsorship deal, and for the long term. It will allow them to mount a charge for the top of the mid table, within a year or two they will be fighting for the occasional win; (little hopeful but the money is serious, its the stability which they need.)

      1. Their financial position is now very stable, and for the coming years will continue to be so, thanks to PDVSA and maldonaldo.

        I understand why they had to do it and it was the right decision I’m just sorry they’re in such a state that they had to give over a driver like Hulkenberg.

    2. Robert McKay
      10th March 2011, 9:06

      It should say “Williams pin hopes on aggressive car for 13th year running” as that’s all they ever say.

      Can’t remember where I saw it said but someone noted that Williams and “agressive new approach” has become the “DC: this is MY year” annual hype replacement.

      Which made me laugh.

  8. I feel i’m going to miss the Hulk this year, for me, he was a highlight of 2010. However, business is business.

    I hope that their ‘tight rear end’ gives them what they’re looking for ‘cos i’m sure it’s going to be even tighter at the top this year with LRGP and Mercedes GP and of course Force India.

  9. It’s time that we see some results from the third most successful F1 team on the grid. Money shouldn’t be a problem for them as they have plenty from the Stock Market.Will they win this season, on pace no, but some lick may be.

    1. Robert McKay
      10th March 2011, 9:07

      Isn’t most of that money going out of the team though. The flotation was basically a “let’s get Patrick and Frank a retirement fund” thing.

      1. That and it happened a bit too late to have a serious effect on this years car anyway!

Comments are closed.