After progress in 2012, it’s time for Williams to deliver in 2013

2013 F1 season preview

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Williams bounced back from a dreadful 2011 campaign and made an overdue return to winning ways last year. But it could have been so much better, as technical director Mike Coughlan admits:

“Last year we had several opportunities we didn’t close out. I think ultimately, as a team, including the drivers, what we need to focus on is maximising our performance and delivering on it when we can.”

Last year’s FW34 was an excellent car on its day but suffered from inconsistency. The team also held off adding a ‘Coanda’ exhaust until the final round, leaving some of its potential unexploited.

That has been addressed for this year. Indeed, the team seems to have been a bit optimistic about what it could achieve with the new exhaust, prompting the FIA to outlaw one of its innovations.

The drivers’ first impressions of the new car were positive, describing it as being easier to drive and showing considerable potential. Towards the end of testing a new exhaust configuration appeared – Coughlan says the team aim to bring updates to every race this year having produced 35 floor upgrades during the course of 2012.

The question now is whether the team’s exciting driver line-up can make the most of what they’ve got. The team have put considerable effort into finding a place for Valtteri Bottas and expectations are high for the 2011 GP3 champion.

Matching his rapid team mate on one-lap pace will be a tall order but that’s the goal he has to aspire to. Pastor Maldonado had little to worry about last year from a Bruno Senna who had one hand tied behind his back but Bottas may prove a genuine threat.

The team will not be diverting practice time to a third driver this year and have pledged to make it a fair fight between their two charges. “We don’t have a number one driver,” said Coughlan. “We are absolutely desperate to take the same car to every race.”

Williams had a difficult winter with the Mark Gillan leaving and Toto Wolff moving to Mercedes. In response Maldonado’s former race engineer Xevi Pujolar has taken on the role of chief race engineer.

Sadly the team have also lost Lady Virginia ‘Ginny Williams’, wife of Sir Frank, who succumbed to cancer last week.

Car 16: Pastor Maldonado

Maldonado threw away scores, perhaps even hundreds of points last year. But he also showed an abundance of speed with several excellent qualifying performances and a frankly superb win in Spain.

Whether he can get his demons under control and let his obvious talent shine through will define his season.

His place at the team is inevitably linked to to the financial support he brings from Venezuela, and recent events in the country have cast doubt on how long it will continue.

But the team believe in their driver. “Pastor’s driving towards the end of the season was tremendous,” said Coughlan. “People didn’t realise the problems he was carrying in the car. He had great performance.”

Car 17: Valtteri Bottas

Williams have high expectations of Bottas and his arrival on the team marks the culmination of several years’ work.

He brings little by way of sponsorship money and his track work last year was largely confined to practice session appearances in Bruno Senna’s car.

Bottas impressed the team with his pace and technical feedback and spent the winter conditioning himself for his F1 debut. “Valtteri is very disciplined, very focussed,” said Coughlan. “He’s worked very hard over the winter, lost some weight, put on some strength”.

With his track record and what should be a competitive car, Bottas stands out among the rookies of 2013 as the one most worth keeping an eye on.

But as he hasn’t started a race since the Macau Grand Prix in November 2011, we should be wary of expecting too much too soon.

Williams FW35

Williams championship form

Championship position92114463117242111211353322458487698

Williams in 2013: Your view

Will we see a new, more mature Maldonado in 2013? And how will Bottas fare on his long-awaited debut?

Have your say in the comments.

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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...

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45 comments on “After progress in 2012, it’s time for Williams to deliver in 2013”

  1. I honestly think that Maldonado could be a truly great driver – we all seem to forget that he was only in his second season when he got that win. If he can keep his head on straight, I can see a Williams resurgence on the cards.

    1. I dont know about that.. he looked better than Barrichello only on a few occassions in 2011.. and in 2012 he was matched against a sub par Senna.

      Maldonado might have something.. but its still too early to gauge him unless we have an accurate yardstick to measure him with. For all you know, the Williams could have been a championship winning car that was completely wasted with Pastor behind the wheel

      1. I see the Maldonado and Senna combination the same way i did with Kubica nad Heidfeld. We all know Kubica is the faster and better driver but Nick did match him (or even beat) on points…

      2. When you say he was matched against sub par Senna last year, its worth noting that he had Senna very comprehensively beaten on pace. Only he threw most of that away in avoidable and even almost malicious incidents @todfod

        1. Fernando Cruz
          11th March 2013, 18:40

          He had Senna beaten on one lap pace, in qualifying. On race pace Senna was as fast as him.

          1. And its worth pointing out how many Fridays Senna missed out on.

          2. Maldonaldo’s deal with Williams forbade Bruno Senna from testing on the Fridays of race weekends. No surprise that Maldonaldo would outdo Senna on most Saturdays as a result.

            That Senna could come back to match Maldonaldo on race pace on Sundays is another story in itself.

      3. Fernando Cruz
        11th March 2013, 18:47

        The Williams was not a championship winning car, as McLaren, Red Bull, Lotus and even Ferrari were far superior at almost all tracks. Furthermore Williams had a poor DRS. This year’s car can be better and even so it won’t be a championship winning car.

    2. I hope he does not succeed. Anybody who uses their car to ram and batter other cars shows a level of maliciousness that is only commended in boxing and UFC, not on a racing track. With Grosjean it’s accidental, with Maldonado it’s deliberate and that can’t be right.

      1. I’m sorry, but are you declaring every single incident that Maldonado has been involved in to be him deliberately attempting to ram people? because that would be nonsense. I can think of one, maybe two examples where this would be the case.

        1. There should be no cases of him trying to ram people off the road.

      2. David not Coulthard (@)
        11th March 2013, 16:32

        But I think that all stopped after (not at) Spa.

        1. I deeply disagree.

          You remember Maldonado vs Perez in Monaco?

          I think it was one of the free practices, he deliberately cut Perez off the corner just before the tunnel.

          1. I like that Maldonado uses his car as an extension of his fists – lethal weapon! More drivers should show the kind of character y cojones that the Venezuelan strongman has mustered! That he threw away scores of points and looks like a disfigured Bond-villain only makes him more likable and worthy of fan-support. Venga venga venga! Go Pastor!

          2. Luc I believe that @davidnotcoulthard meant after Spa 2012 not 2011.

            Maldonado got a ten-place grid penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Sergio Pérez during FP3.

  2. Lee (@michael-in-beijing)
    11th March 2013, 15:33

    I hope they come out on top in the Chinese GP, like Mercedes did here last year. Go Bottas!

  3. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    11th March 2013, 15:41

    Bottas will blow Maldonado away. It will be hard for Williams to break into the top four but they continue the trend of producing better and better cars they won’t have trouble attracting sponsors and top line drivers. I just hanker for that iconic White and Green Fly Saudia colour scheme.

    1. I’m really not expecting Bottas to blow Maldonado away. Maldonado was actually very impressive last year, particularly towards the end of the season, when he was keeping himself out of trouble. Suddenly everyone started talking about Grosjean being the “crash kid”, not Maldonado. So they should be fairly evenly matched, I feel, though I’d give Maldonado the upper hand for the first few races.

    2. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk

      Bottas will blow Maldonado away.

      Based on what evidence?

      1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        12th March 2013, 14:45

        His Friday test times were regularly faster than Maldonado’s AND he kept the car on the road more often. Once he’s settled in and got a few races under his belt he’ll be a man to watch. Many of those within Williams reckon he’s the better man and if they don’t know, nobody does. Remember Williams have given up a chunk of Senna dosh to give this man a seat. They wouldn’t have done that unless it would move their lead car up the grid. So… no real hard evidence maybe and “blow Maldonado away” may have been exaggerating a bit so perhaps I’m wrong but it will be exciting to find out. Cant wait!

  4. I like Williams, a lot and i want Bottas to do well and i want the team to do well. Williams has a racing history of over 30 years in F1 and it’s time for them to win something again. But i want Maldonado to do bad i seriously wish for Bottas to outscore, out-qualify and out-race Maldonado the whole season.
    If they have a car like last years they are going to win. But who is gonna win first? Bottas or Crashdonaldo?

    1. You like williams but you want to maldonado to do bad, yeah!

  5. Maldonado could be great. But he must not continue to be a driver that:

    threw away scores, perhaps even hundreds of points last year

    Because no great driver wastes so many opportunities in a car like last year’s Williams. If Pastor improves (and remember that though many credited with “improving” after Spa, he threw it off road at Interlagos), he should beat Bottas, depending on how long he takes to settle. If not, I believe the rookie will blow him away.

    1. I agree @david-a, I would say that when Keith writes

      Whether he can get his demons under control and let his obvious talent shine through will define his season.

      might be even better expressed that it will define not just his season but rather his career.

    2. @david-a

      (and remember that though many credited with “improving” after Spa, he threw it off road at Interlagos)

      That was in very difficult conditions, other had crashes as well and it nearly happened to Alonso. Other than that he’s been more or less incident-free in the last 40% of the season…

  6. im very excited to see how williams fair this year, with an exciting driver line-up and a much improved car that was already a race winner, i think theyre capable of big things. Bottas may take a couple races to warm up but when he does i think he’s gonna be great

  7. In my opinion, Williams has the best driver line-up for this year. Realistically, Williams are not going to fight for the championship this year, so the drivers they chose are classic: talent and rookie. Pastor Maldonado in my opinion is one of the best drivers of the field. He already showed what he can do with an average car in last year’s Spanish and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, and if he is able to sort out his affection with using his car as a weapon, he might become one to look at by the big teams. Unfortunately for him, I don’t see it happening anytime soon: the two seats at the top teams that will become available the soonest are probably Webber’s and Massa’s. But the problem Maldo has is that so far neither of the teams have taken an interest in him. It would be great if he could move up the ladder, else I fear this will be a missed opportunity for F1.

    Then Bottas: of all five rookies, I’m most interested to see how Bottas is gonna perform (even more than my compatriot vd Garde). He a great talent, possibly a future race winner. I hope he will get the hang of it quickly, like he did with F3 and GP3. It will also be interesting to see if Williams’s gamble of not letting him race in 2012 will pay off, which could possibly set a trend of teams nurturing their F1 babies to protect them from the outside world!

    1. And lets not forget he had a KERS problem in Abu Dhabi…making that drive all the more impressive.

      1. Indeed he did.

  8. Well gone are the days of Montoya and Schumacher in a Williams car. Maybe the new guys can create upsets.

  9. I cant help thinking people are expecting too much of Bottas. Unless they followed his F3 season I cant see how they can be so confident of his talent. Being reasonably fast and consistent in practice sessions is a good sign obviously, but that’s quite different to winning races in what will probably be the 5th or 6th fastest car.

    I expect him to qualify around .2-.5s behind Maldonado for the first few races at least, maybe make up a few places in the races.

    1. Unless they followed his F3 season I cant see how they can be so confident of his talent.

      That’s the beauty of it: they did. At least some did, and the vast majority just blindly copies those peoples’ opinions.

      1. watched him race in GP3 and he was excellent. but then i watched him splash around silverstone on that soaking friday morning. what impressed me was that even in the difficult conditions he never missed his marks and whenever the car tried to break loose he caught it extremely quickly. i said then that he’d be racing in 2013 and that he was a talent

  10. Fernando Cruz
    11th March 2013, 18:28

    “Maldonado threw away scores, perhaps even hundreds of points last year.”

    Hundreds of points??? There must be a mistake, Maldonado lost many points last year but not even close to 100, let alone much more than that! Maybe Grosjean lost more points than him and anyway we have to consider almost all F1 drivers lose points with mistakes here and there.

    Some people seem to think Williams had a championship contender last year and that is nonsense. It was a car capable to figh for a win only in Spain and capable of podiums on several other occasions. Maldonado should have scored a lot more points but not as much as some people tend to think. I believe he will be more consistent in a 3rd season. Also Bruno Senna would improve a lot in a 2nd season with the team – more experience, tyres allowing him to be way faster in qualifying and the same amount of track time of others. I very much doubt Bottas will do better than Senna would do in a 2nd season, even if the young Finn is as good as I think he is.

    1. It’s probably not 100, but it’s not as far from it as you think. Think Melbourne, Sepang (though he wouldn’t have got the 6th place anyway as he had an engine failure), Monaco, Silverstone, Montreal, Valencia and Spa. A couple of podiums and a few solid points finishes he lost by his own fault. Certainly over 50 points.

      1. Fernando Cruz
        11th March 2013, 19:46

        He lost a lot at Melbourne, Valencia and maybe Spa (this last one it’s hard to know, as in race pace the Williams didn’t seem that quick). At Sepang he was 10th when he had engine failure, at Montreal he had not a car to score points (he finished 13th and even without the mistake in qualifying I doubt he would score) and at Silverstone he would score little points (maybe 2 or 4). Even at Monaco he would score little points, as he only qualified 9th due to traffic, although he had pace to qualify in the top 5. So I think it’s hard to know how much points he lost with mistakes. Maybe some 50… maybe more if we count Interlagos.

    2. This comment over rates Maldonado. A better pairing would’ve produced more form the FW34. If Hamilton was in the Williams last year with Rosberg they would’ve been much higher up the order. Ahead of Mercedes certainly.

  11. I don’t know why, but I really think Maldonado has something pretty special. I don’t like his unsporting attitude at times but his pace really is unbelievable. Reminds me very much of an on form Montoya.

    1. @sw6569

      I really think Maldonado has something pretty special. I don’t like his unsporting attitude…Reminds me very much of an on form Montoya.

      If Montoya looked (and drove) like an evil, disfigured Bond-villain!

  12. I feel Williams could be on a mover up the grid this year if they continue to improve especially in the development cycles. Maldonado definitely can race and has potential if he matures a bit, Bottas is talented and this season we will see how much of that translates into his driving as a rookie on the grid in F1. Overall Williams has the potential as a team to challenge this year and it would be nice to see them begin the return to their glory days, for Frank, for everyone there.

  13. I really want to see Maldonado doing great, but if Bottas can match him or be faster than him off the bat, only better for Williams. And Williams doing great is always good for F1.

  14. It would be great to see the Williams team have a competitive and productive season. Long one of my favorite teams, it is refreshing to see an underdog (privateer without the massive resources of the ultra-rich manufacturers) with so much potential going into a new season. The car looks quite promising and the drivers are the definition of partially unrealized potential and a largely unknown quantity in F1 competition, yet good experience with the car and team. Maldonado *should* realize his potential this season and I think he will. I think Bottas could be one of the better young drivers to come along in a while. How could any F1 fan not be excited about what the Williams team brings to 2013!

  15. I like Bottas and am excited about his potential, but I hope that people moderate their expectations a little. It seems there are more than a few expect him to beat Maldonado from the get go. I think that’s unlikely.

    The highest level he has raced is GP3 – he hasn’t done GP2 or WSR 3.5. And despite his FP1 drives last year and testing this year, it needs to be kept in mind that with testing restrictions, Formula One rookies arrive with many fewer kms under their belt than they used to.

    If it took someone of Hulkenberg’s ability half a season or so to get back in the groove with Force India after a year off (having raced GP2 and F1 with Williams) it stands to reason that it will take Bottas some time to find his feet in F1. Please don’t consider him a failure if he takes some time to get going.

  16. It really is heartening to see the ‘win’ graph finally increase

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