|Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa in front of the 2014 Williams F1 car. Source: motorsportchannel.com|
Back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, Williams Formula 1 team was a powerhouse of the sport. Their drivers included Keke Rosberg, Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, Michael Schumacher and Aryton Senna. They had tremendous success with these drivers, bringing home multiple driver’s and constructor’s World Championships. But in the last couple of years, Williams has been at an all time low, finishing 9th, 8th and 9th again the last three years in the Constructor’s Championship.
But this year has been different. Williams seems to be regaining their game after the addition of Felipe Massa to their team and keeping Valtteri Bottas. Ten races into the season, Williams is third in the Constructor’s Championship (just ahead of Ferrari) and Bottas is fifth in the driver’s side of things, with no sign of slowing down (Figure 1). At the German Grand Prix this year Bottas started second and Massa third, a tremendous qualifying result for the team.
So what’s making them so strong? To start, they have a strong and experienced Massa paired with 24 year old Bottas, and they are both performing at a very high level.
Bottas has been on the podium three times and has an average finish so far of 6.3. This is far better than last years stats of no podiums and a 14.4 finish. If Valtteri Bottas continues his form through the rest of the season, he could definitely see a new contract offer from another team. Bottas is all set to keep improving in the coming seasons, with his points going from 4 in 2013 thorough all 19 races to 91 this season through just 10. Bottas’ success this season is a huge part of the Williams team great success so far.
The other half of the team is governed bye ex-Ferrari driver and 11 time winner Felipe Massa. He is the veteran of the team with 12 years of F1 experience under his belt. Although he was never a world champion, Massa has been crazy consistent in a Formula 1 car. His average start and average finish are 8.4 and 12.8, respectively. It is very valuable for Williams and in particular Bottas to have an experienced driver to help with getting the car set up.
Williams as a team has had it’s fair share of retirements, (4) but only on three other occasions have one of their drivers finished outside of the top ten. This is a testament to the drivers and teams consistency. They haven’t been good on just one track but have performed well on all of the circuits. These types of results are what put Williams in the Constructor’s Championship running. I don’t think they have the car or driver (yet) to win a Driver’s World Championship, but they certainly are moving in the right direction.
If Williams can continue to improve the reliability and speed of the car, as well as continue to get young talent like Bottas on the team, they are looking as if they can regain their success of the past in the coming years. As for the rest of the season, we’ll have to see if either Bottas or Massa can get a win and truly put Williams back on top.
– Drew Bennison