Williams pretty much had a season to forget last year. They didn’t really make much of an impression at many races, Massa got lost for half of them, Bottas did well and then left. In the end, they lost out in their battle with Force India and finished 5th. Probably where they deserved to be.
This year sees some exciting changes in both the drivers and the team. Massa did retire, walked like a hero through the Brazilian pit lane with his family. Then mere weeks late returns after worlds shortest retirement. The question with Massa is whether he’s come back to work as a mentor with Stroll or if he really wants one final push at a race win.
Then we have the young Mr Lance Stroll. Everyone seems to want to put around that he is effectively a pay driver, he comes from a family of money and has used this to work his way through the formulas. BUT he’s actually good. Money or not, we all hope Williams have learnt their lesson from when the allowed Crashdonardo to pedal one of their cars.
Stroll is the current European Formula Three Champion. Not only did he win the championship very convincingly; he won the five last races. In total he actually won 14 of the 30 races in the championship. We don’t think that Stroll is a pay driver. He’s a good driver who happens to come from a wealthy family and he might be bringing some money with him. We say might, but it’s got to be there. He is a good driver and he’ll pretty soon be able to drop the tag of paid driver.
Two major key players have made their way to Williams for 2017, Paddy Lowe from Mercedes and Dave Redding from McLaren. It will take some time for their impact to be felt, but before the summer break, we should be able to see some of their influences on the team.
So what does this all mean for this season? Well, they’ve told us nothing about the car, they don’t make their own engine and we’ve heard nothing about how they will cope with the new regulations.
Pit stops were an area of strength for Williams last year and this year with the larger tyres, we expect to see some cock-ups, so if Williams can nail them again, then this could be a less-than-surprising overtaking opportunity for them. Imagine coming in tot he pits in Monaco in 8th behind a train of cars and then leaving in 4th, all because your team can change four tyres quicker. Madness we tell you.
With so little news to go, we think Stroll will out-perform Massa, simply because he has so much to prove and Massa is on his second goodbye tour for the year. The Force India’s will once again finish ahead of them and the McLaren’s will be fighting hard. By a point or two in Abu Dhabi, we think the Williams will be pushed into 6th.
They’re a team we all and hope the best for, but we can’t see much more then mid-table respectability for Williams this year.