Williams F1 Team celebrated their 600th Formula 1 Grand Prix entrance at the 2013 running of the German Grand Prix, but the results of the race left the struggling team with little to pop Champaign over.
Williams is a storied team in the F1 universe. They have been in the sport for over 35 years and in that time they have earned nine constructor’s championships, seven driver’s championships, 114 race wins and 127 pole positions. As of late though the team has been struggling to stay relevant in Formula One and hasn’t won a race in over a year.
The last time Williams was in the top 5 of the constructor’s points at the end of a season was in 2007 when they finished fourth. Their low point was 2011 when the team only managed five points the entire season, but they could sink lower this year as they have not accounted for a single point in the first nine races.
Finnish rookie Valtteri Bottas gave the team a glimmer of hope at the Canadian Grand Prix when he qualified P3, but even he admitted that it was only due to the rainy conditions during qualifying. That turned out to be true on race day when Bottas plummeted down the grid from the start under dry conditions and finished a disappointing P14. His best race showing of the year came in Malaysia where he finished P11.
His team mate Pastor Maldonado has not fared better by any stretch of the imagination. The considerably more experienced driver has four DNFs on the year, hasn’t qualified better than P13, and hasn’t finished better than P11 which he managed in Bahrain and the UK. If he doesn’t make progress between now and the end of the year he may be looking for a new gig in 2014.
Williams will be switching to Mercedes power plants next season in the hopes of finding an engine that will work with their chassis and thus end their miserable streak. This will be the fifth different engine supplier for Williams in fifteen seasons, so it looks as if they are trying as many flavors as they can until they find one that suits their taste.
The only other light at the end of the tunnel for Williams comes from Bottas, who after his impressive qualifying run in Montreal shut down any rumors of jumping to a better team almost before they started. The young driver has made it clear that he wants to stay with Williams.
McLaren Mercedes has already publically stated that they are now more focused on the 2014 season than the current one due to their poor performances. I’d say it is time that Williams joins them.