williams team-001

Parc Ferme: Bumping along the bottom

williams team-001

After reviewing all the other Formula 1 teams for 2022, a simple process of elimination means I’ve finally arrived at the bottom of the barrel. Unfortunately for Williams Racing, they are no strangers to this region of the Constructors’ table.

In 2021 they dabbled briefly with eighth, courtesy of George Russel’s point-scoring performances in Hungary and Spa. But other than this, they have been nothing, if not consistent, in coming last since 2018.

In August 2020, Dorilton Capital, a private investment company, bought Williams Racing for a reported €152-Million. This marked the end of the “garagista” era and the departure from F1 of the last independently owned constructor. Jost Capito was then appointed as CEO and, a year later, Team Principal. He then brought in his long-term friend and colleague – François-Xavier Demaison, to head up the design stuff.

I am your father, Luke

The FW44 incorporated the Mercedes PU and drivetrain, together with their pull-rod rear suspension. Its most noticeable points of interest were its sidepods – slim, and its Star Wars-inspired front brake ducts. As the cars of Red Bull & Ferrari were revealed, it became clear that the FW44’s aero bared little resemblance to theirs; the significance of which would only become apparent later.

If the desires of many in the F1 fraternity could be realized tangibly, Williams Racing would have produced a car of Haas-like renaissance in 2022.

Unfortunately, like the offerings of recent years, they didn’t. While its floor aero worked, its design could not tame the accompanying “porpoising”. Consequently, the car had to be run higher than what was considered ideal, negatively impacting both high and slow-speed cornering.

Whilst this was not a unique problem amongst the teams, it affected Williams more than others.

A new direction

So, it was no surprise that in July, Alex Albon’s car received a massive Red Bullish styled upgrade. In fact, in the words of Williams Technical Director, Demaison, wo said: “We can really call it a new car because the list of parts we kept is much shorter than the ones we changed.”

The cost of this upgrade must have been substantial, and there were no subsequent ones of note that followed for the rest of the season.

A flash in the pan

The “new car” gave the team an initial fillip, with Alex Albon almost making Q3 in Austria and actually getting there with a stunning eighth in Spa.

Even Nicolas Latifi managed to reach this rarefied atmosphere following his mysterious Q2 qualifying lap in Hungary. However, it was Nyck de Vries who produced William’s stand-out race of the year, starting on the fourth row at Monza and delivering a joint-highest finish of ninth in the race.

But as a stand-in driver, one wonders how Albon would have faired if he’s not been up on bricks for the weekend. Unfortunately, Monza turned out to be as good as  it gets  for the team, as they reclaimed their reputation for exiting in Q3


Nicolas Latifi’s announced departure at the end of the year was hardly a surprise. Apart from money, he never brought anything to the team in terms of results and points.

His replacement, Logan Sargeant, is unlikely to remedy this. It will be his first year in F1, and on the basis of his Formula 2 showing, we should hardly hold our breath. The words “nothing special” spring to mind here.

However, he is an American, and like having a female driver in your team, appears to be a marketable state of affairs for sponsors.

Not expected

Albon: Capito not just a Team Principal but a great friend

However, what is astonishing is the sudden exit of Jost Capito. Together with his partner in crime and Technical Director FX.

This leaves quite a vacuum in the management and design structure of the team. Replacing Capito with James Vowles (although only for the Team Principal bit), seems a bit of a shot in the dark.

Vowels is a competent strategist and no doubt capable of growing into the role. However, he’s not an engineer or an aerodynamicist, which would be useful here as there’s no one currently in place to lead this essential position.

There are Klingons on the starboard bow

With no obvious CEO in place, it would seem that someone in Dorilton Capital is now steering the ship. This would explain the sudden senior departures and a certain hubris on how an F1 team works.

If they’re listening, I will use a similar line to that of Dr. McCoy in Star Trek when addressing his erstwhile captain: “It’s a business, Jim, but not as you know it.”

Capito noted on his arrival in 2020, that Williams had fallen ten years behind the top teams. At this rate, I suspect that’s where they will stay for the foreseeable future.