Who will drive for Williams in Formula 1?
The team saw Russell leave for Mercedes at the end of 2021, leaving a huge void. Alexander Albon will have to fill it. The former teammate of Max Verstappen had to miss out on the 2021 season as a driver, but at Williams he gets a new chance to show himself in Formula 1.
He will team up with Latifi. The Canadian experienced a disappointing period last season, but Williams remains confident that he will do better in the future. In 2022, therefore, he has all the pressure on his shoulders to reach a high level and make sure his team performs again.
Three times is the charm
Two unsuccessful attempts to get a Formula One team off the ground were not enough for Sir Frank Williams to throw in the towel. In 1977, the Brit joined forces with Patrick Head and entered the Spanish GP with a customer car. The results were not great, so Williams set about trying to get his own car on the grid. With the FW06, Alan Jones scored his first points at the 1987 South African GP by finishing fourth.
From that moment on, everything accelerated. With Ford's V8 in the back, Williams stormed to second place in the 1979 Constructors' standings and Alan Jones took four wins. A year later, the Australian was world champion and Williams was top of the Constructors' rankings. It won the constructors' title in 1981, but this time it was Nelson Piquet who beat Jones in the drivers' championship. The Aussie's final year in the Williams ended with a third place.
Despite taking the title with Keke Rosberg (father of the 2016 champion Nico Rosberg), 1982 brought little good for Williams. Results were significantly down and the culprit of the story seemed to be Ford's V8. The switch to power sources from Honda (turbocharged V6 engines) started to pay off in 1985 and Williams regained the constructors' titles in 1986 and 1987. Piquet won the championship as well as in 1981, but this time in the Williams team.
Honda brought success, but the Japanese manufacturer split up with Williams after its success in 1987. The British team had to settle for one year with a V8 engine (without turbo) that had been bought from Renault. It won races again and in 1992 a dominant era began for Williams thanks to, among other things, an active suspension. Nigel Mansell won the title for the British team, and the following year Alain Prost.
Three years in a row Williams also took the constructors' title, 1995 being the exception. In 1996 and 1997 it was again Williams that won, with the championships for Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve in their pocket. In the middle of those years, their driver Aryton Senna had a fatal crash.
Beginning of the misery
Mastermind designer Adrian Newey left and created a big problem. Combine that with a step back from the engine supplier and you have disaster. Williams suffered both setbacks in 1998 (Newey moved to competitor McLaren and delivered success there) and had to endure a few years with discarded engines.
Only in 2000 did it get a decent power source again, this time from BMW. With Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher behind the wheel, the results slowly started to improve from 2001 onwards. The reliability of the FW32 was just a far cry, but could occasionally be compensated by the speed of the BMW engine.
From 2004 the mud-slinging between BMW and Williams began, with both sides claiming that the other was bringing too little to the table. Despite an ongoing contract between BMW and Williams until after the 2009 season, the team switched to Cosworth engines in 2006. It put Rosberg in Nick Heidfeld's place and Mark Webber stayed on at Williams for another year. It was another year of nothing but setbacks, forcing the team to replace the power unit in the back of the Williams after just one year.
It wasn't until the switch to engines from Mercedes in 2014 (the hybrid V6 era) that results seemed to improve again. Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas returned to the occasional podium (Pastor Maldonado's victory in 2012 remains isolated) and the team finished third in the championship. It could not enjoy it for long, after the FW38 was only good enough for P5 in 2016.
It wasn't until the switch to Mercedes engines in 2014 (the hybrid V6 era) that results seemed to improve again. Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas returned to the occasional podium (Pastor Maldonado's victory in 2012 was the only one in the last five years to that point) and the team finished third in the championship. It couldn't enjoy it for long, after the FW38 was only good enough for P5 in 2016.
It traded Bottas for Lance Stroll a year later. Although it achieved the same P5 in the championship, this time it was with just 83 points behind Williams' name. The FW40 had barely improved, making the 2018 season Williams' most painful ever. They only scored seven points with Sergey Sirotkin and Stroll. Then-headline sponsor Martini also ceased working together after this season, after which a difficult period began for Williams.
Sirotkin and Stroll disappeared from Williams, with the former even leaving Formula 1 completely. In place of the two departing drivers came Robert Kubica and George Russell. Russell, as a Mercedes junior, made his first few miles in a GP before making the step to the factory team, while Kubica returned after years of absence to prove himself. Williams, however, proved capable of sinking even further, managing to score just one point with Kubica and Russell in 2019.
The coronavirus crisis hit Williams Racing hard. Investors had to step in to save the place and it found them at Dorilton Capital. They took over the team and also filled the team's technical roles during the season. That also meant the end for Claire Williams at the team of her father, Franks Williams. Sadly, Sir Frank Williams passed away in 2021.
The big rule change of 2022 seems to be the big chance for Williams to start from scratch and close the gap with the competition. Over the past year the team has therefore been working hard behind the scenes to secure a future in Formula One. The first few months of racing in 2022 should show how successful they are.
Which engine will Williams use in Formula 1?
Williams uses the engine of Mercedes Benz. Where last year Williams built most of its parts itself, in 2022 it will take over more from Mercedes. This makes Williams a bigger customer team of Mercedes, which can focus on the weaknesses of the Williams car.