Williams have Mercedes in their sights

Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:29am EST
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Williams are back among Formula One's top trio of teams but deputy principal Claire Williams does not hesitate when asked whether she senses a return to the Williams of old.

"No, it feels like a new Williams," the daughter of founder Frank told Reuters at the end of a season that saw the former champions finishing third overall in their best performance since 2003.

"It's not that I don’t love the old Williams... But I think for a number of years we’ve been kind of static, kind of held down and the brand not really knowing where it was, the team not really knowing where it was going."

Last year, Williams scored just five points and finished ninth overall.

The once-dominant team, winners of nine constructors' and seven drivers' championships between 1980 and 1997, also scored only five points in 2011 and had not finished higher than sixth overall in the last six years.

So far was the fall from grace that some had begun wondering whether Williams might be headed the same way as now-defunct ex-champions Tyrrell.

This season has highlighted the importance of the switch from Renault to dominant Mercedes engines but the marked improvement in performance comes down to much more than just bolting a different power unit into the back of the car.

The arrival of technical head Pat Symonds, who won championships with Benetton and Renault, as chief technical officer in July 2013 was one key moment as were the signings this year of engineers Jakob Andreasen and Rob Smedley from Force India and Ferrari.   Continued...

Williams Formula One deputy team principal Claire Williams attends a news conference after the second practice session of the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne March 14, 2014. REUTERS/Brandon Malone