Williams F1 - shitshow

I find F1 one of the most tedious of sports.   It now enjoys a unique blend of arrogance and complacency, attracts the worst people and benefits a handful of individuals financially while being at the forefront of the Great Project that is destruction of our planet.

Yet in there somewhere there is a Scalextric-loving 1970s child who feels enormously disappointed by where we are now as it was so much the opposite of all that when I was growing up. James Hunt, Jodie Schecter, Niki Lauda, Emmerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet, Mario Andretti.  The Elf Tyrrell. The JPS Lotus, Marlboro McLaren. 

In all of that, the story of Williams is the saddest of all.  I read they did not have their car ready for testing this week, two days into the programme no car on the track. Still not even flown out of the Oxfordshire workshop.

I grew up in an era of crazy engineering heroes doing smart things with off the peg engines and making dangerously effective racing vehicles  with underweight chassis and overweight drivers, all wrapped up in nil health and safety and an absurd level of acceptance of death and injury. Then they moved to a phase where massive turbos were added to big engines and vehicles shrouded in huge body systems with spoilers, skirts, adhesion fans (ground effect). This meant they went very fast stuck to the track, with turbo lag meaning that speed was at peak long after it had been asked for, and could sprint round a corner without having to worry about losing down force. All well until the body skins failed or they hit debris and skirts/fans/splitters broke  - then the laws of physics took over and they became aircraft. They killed their drivers with alarming frequency.

After Gilles Villeneuve's death, turbos and ground effect disappeared from F1 and we went back to good old engineering.  Williams, with the help of Honda and Renault, came to the fore under Patrick Head and Ross Braun.  Head was the cavalier technical director who knew how to make things go faster (he was the crazy man behind Group B rally, such as the Metro XR4.  Braun knew how to build that into a reliable vehicle which pit teams could replicate race after race. They attracted great drivers and through the mid 80s to the mid 90s they were invincible.  From Mansell to Senna etc. 

Then Senna died.  The track, its corner, the condition of the vehicle's steering system, whatever. When he died the music died.

Montoya I don't think so.  Compaq as sponsor. BMW as engine maker.  all to shit.

Frank Williams became disengaged. Head retired. Braun to Ferrari.   Non competitive cars.  Can't attract the drivers. New team management.  None of that Frank Williams aspergic passion.

Now they can't even get a car ready in the closed season.

It's a disgrace. 

In Nov 2000 I was invited to an interview at the (then) new centre at Grove. It was for their Head of Legal role.  Frank W and Patrick H interviewed me and then Patrick said "that's enough of all that" and I was taken down to have a look round the workshop.  They were awash with money and really confident that the future was bright.    It wasn't.  total disaster.

My wife said, the other day "If you had taken that job you would have been bored very quickly. Surrounded by cars, engineers and clingy fit women in a business that was going bust. Bet you're glad you didn't go".

 

I nearly cried.

Heh @ mrs M

 

but I am not sure why adhesion fans causing ground effect is distinguished from engineering?

Brawn. His name is Brawn.

Williams have Paddy Lowe who left Mercedes for this shitshow. He won't be around much longer I suppose.

yeah, sorry, I am on the world's most boring conf call and I just rambled.

Did you ever read the story of the development of the McLaren F1.  Two massive fans sucking the vehicle onto the road because they could and because they were still bitching about them being no go on the track.

 

Sorry about the Brawn typo.

Lowe is going to be let go.

motor racing is a sport. you should just give up that argument.

 

But it is (now) a shit sport, I agree.

I live very near a proper old school model shop. if me and the kids walk by it we go in and play scalextic until they ask us to leave.

the guy who runs it is the comic book guy from the simpsons

The six wheel F1 cars of the '70s were interesting. Tyrell and McLaren I think.

George Russell is on track now if you're still interested Muttley.

Back in the pit again after 1 installation lap. No sign of Kubica going out yet...

The docu on Williams was very good (and sad). Frank Williams has a very far away look (maybe he always did) and the story of his wife and the daughter and son falling out was sad. She is definitely her father's daughter.

I saw that they were on the track 

Russell will be really unhappy about the poor relation image he has acquired before even driving a yard.

The docu on Williams, Amber, told us a lot.

 

My view is that Frank Williams hung on way too long at the business.  He and Head were old boys. They got going out of a shed and developed a great business with 300 committed team members by the time their Didcot place was beginning to look too small. They built Grove and moved in and at that point, post Hill, they looked like old boys in a young man's game.  Their commercial director also.  They are control freaks and could not let go.  They should have gone earlier, when Mansell and Senna had Adrian Newey building amazing cars like FW16 for them and FW and PH could look on and say "That's how we do that". They could have stepped off at peak, before Williams parted company with Honda and lost their man sponsor, Cannon.

Let's discuss the taboo issue. Sir Frank's accident.  It left him battling the challenges of neck down disability.  When he interviewed me he was on a device that stood him up. A sort of crucifix.  He had the thin reedy voice that someone with paralysis from the neck down has as they do not have enough thoracic muscle function to push air through vocal chords and inflate the soundbox of the torso.  This impacted style and message. He came across as questioning, pedestrian, critical and generally frustrated, which he was for obvious reasons. Leadership moved from inspiration to some sort of niggly standards Tsar which created a less than joyous vibe in the team. Frankly he was a bit of a CU next Tuesday by the late 90s and it got worse.  But by then he had created a "Frank's Way" which his daughter preserves but without, alas, the back book of successes.  She will be raging around now looking for whose head to put on a spike but that will be post-event anger. She has not got the resources or perhaps the charisma that a FW in the midst of his best years had, and that's where the culture of excellence came from. It has gone.  The team is fecked.

I used to drop by to see a mate in the Chessington area who worked at Brabham Engineering.   I loved their team spirit and the workshops with the snakes head insignia.  They went bust in one season despite their heritage and dear old Jack B's enthusiasm.  Then of course there was Arrows, Lola, Prost, Ligier, Minardi, Jordan, Hesketh, Stewart, etc etc   Williams cannot be far behind the over 100 constructors which have been big names in F1 but have butted out or gone the wall.  They are on the downcycle.  

 

Have you met Claire Wiliams Mutters? I think you are grossly underestimating her. I do accept hat the financial resources available to her are now somewhat limited.

I have met her. I can't really say I know her.  I can however say that Williams are not the force they one were and I can say that Williams F1 is not the team it once was. It doesn't have the driver quality, engine quality, independent engine manufacturer budget and ambition or sponsor commitment that it once had.  I am sure that in £ for £ terms the funds are huge now but proportionately speaking they were in a stronger financial position to achieve more in years gone by than they are now.  It is relevant that she does not have the allure that someone in the late 70s early 80s like FW had in his industry at the time. I have no doubt she is an extraordinarily competent person but I don't think she commands the following that Williams and Head could in their heyday. I stand by what I said. 

Sorry, above when I say FW16, I meant FW15 which was the mega car that Senna loved not the tricky fucker that had a front end that did its own thing the following year, that killed him.  And I would add Renault to Honda and Rothmans to Cannon.   Compare with the downturn that followed, with BMW/Compaq.

They came 3rd 2nd  and 3rd in the constructors with the BMW unit before they fell out with them. Better than their two seasons prior with Mecachrome (rebadged renault)  / Supertec (rebadged Mecachrome) engines. 

And better than anything since...

The Renault interim arrangement then Supertec was an emergency situation and the beginning of the WTF Is Happening At Williams era.

BMW / Compaq years saw giant spend but no constructor win. Only you remember 3.2.3 years (for which good effort).  It was the time of signing new drivers and loaning them.

Can you imagine being Montoya. Yes, I'm driving for Williams. Oh no, I'm driving a rubbish van. Fuck, now I am doing this for a decade. Where are the wins?

You are right, the 3.2.3 was better than anything since. but it was in fact the last gasp of success culture. They weren't able to win because the kit was no good, but they still drove well and had good pit discipline, but then this was just a staging post on the way down.  The kit got no better but the team got worse and the leadership failed.

 

 

I thought she came across well in docu. Obviously the more driven on the two children and more like her father, presumably why he choose her to lead. However, she was personable. I was surprised how open they were over the falling out. They obviously all adored the mother, who seemed to hold them all together.

This is pretty special Muttley:

 

Robert Kubica back from the dead and this morning driving a Williams F1 car. Unbelievable:

 

2019 Barcelona February testing

Look at all the sensors on that car.

 

Those grills are used in testing for front and rear airflow modelling. To check if the flow is as anticipated from the wind tunnel tests, the point being that track testing throws up anomalies from the track surface which makes the wind tunnel tests only partially determinative of how spoilers, fins and splitters should be set.  These sensor arrays contain what planes use to measure air speed around the fuselage  - pitot tubes or kiel probe sensors.

 

pitot tubes only on that rake I think. Gave them a  good excuse for some slow slow laps at the start but they are catching the pack now.

I was at school with the son.  Very nice guy, passionate about F1 and generous with tickets and the like but let’s just that he did not trouble the scholarship sets and was easily led astray.  He was and probably still is a very good driver scout (he persuaded his dad to take on Montoya), but it is no surprise at all that his dad selected his sister to take over the company.

(As an entirely irrelevant aside, he was obese as a child and from the documentary now looks to be in pretty good shape, which does indicate some strength of character)

"(As an entirely irrelevant aside, he was obese as a child and from the documentary now looks to be in pretty good shape, which does indicate some strength of character)"

 

You're not kidding anyone with the new username Lydia.