We’ve touched on this before…Williams have fielded a competitive car and while they continue to say that they are happy with the results so far, many wonder just what the team may have achieved had drivers Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado made the most of the performance gain and not squandered results with driver errors or lack of race craft.

Some fans suggest that the new form of Williams has more to do with the sheer pace of Maldonado and that it is his banzai approach to racing that has warranted the points Williams enjoys this year.  So the argument is, at the very least, two-sided.

That’s not how former Williams driver Rubens Barrichellos sees it. In fact, he told Brazilian radio that Williams should have twice the points they have currently and it is the inexperience of the drivers that is hurting them. AUTOSPORT has the story:

“This kind of thought cannot exist, because I am not driving the car and I cannot think what could be or couldn’t be with me there.

“But the truth is that the car proved to be very competitive. They [Williams] made a good job with that to put the car many positions ahead on the grid [of where they were last year].

“And it is a shame, because I believe that they should have, at least, double the number of points that they in fact have.

“This happens of course because of the inexperience of the drivers – who are fast, but don’t know how to get the chances that the equipment they have in their hands provides them.”

Is it a case of hindsight being 20/20 0r sour grapes? Or does Barrichello have a point? Williams say they aren’t upset at the points lost due to driver error, and some of them have been doozies, but they are focused on their program and maximizing their potential (I’m paraphrasing here). That seems logical and I do think there is a case of excitement to even have points this year considering the team suffered its worst season in history last year. But should they expect more this year?

What do you think? We’ve discussed it here and on our podcast but I’d like to know your opinion, let us know what you think in the comment section below.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • The Imperative Voice

    Can they both be right? Williams has moved from 8th to 9th on the table so relatively speaking the car has improved. This was a car that Rubens could barely get to the points last season.

    However, despite an improved car, Maldonado has been in the points just twice, as many times as Rubens last season. Pastor did win Spain but that was from de facto pole. Looking at Senna’s performance, a more consistent series of Pastor finishes would have put them in the neighborhood of Force India.

    For that matter, bringing Senna in, if the car can take a pole, then maybe Force India-style back of the points finishes are in fact underperformance. Maybe it should be up there wth Sauber.

    But……….you have to cross-check all these “with a better driver” comments with the reality of the F1 pecking order. I’m not usually a big fan of Internet-style responses in the nature of “what would you do instead?” when one is being critical of the status quo, because they can reflect conservatism and lack of imagination, which is less defensible in a mediocre or bad performance situation. But, in this case, it’s somewhat a propos. Williams seems to need someone moneybags, and they’d need to snag better drivers while fielding a team far back in the pack. In F1 that can be something of a Catch 22.

    That being said, a few possible routes out: Schumi, Massa, Heikki, Glock, or someone from Indycar (Power?). In fact, in Schumi’s case, maybe he could attract sufficient sponsorship to justify jettisoning Maldonado.

    • Nathhulal

      “In fact, in Schumi’s case, maybe he could attract sufficient sponsorship to justify jettisoning Maldonado.”
      If Schumi indeed is seeking challenge, he can buy part of Williams/Sauber/FIF1 and be a driver owner and show what he can do to elevate a mid-field team. That would be an actual case of “putting money where your mouth is”

  • Eje

    I think it’s bit of both here. Neither driver got much experience yet in F1 and how to work on setting up a car. This is Maldonados second year so he is getting there and hopefully learned good last year when driving next to a veteran. Senna well coming from HRT and being mostly just a Lotus test driver (with exception for few races where he drive next to another in experienced driver – Petrov) don’t have much good experience either in car setup and development.

    But both been spirited in their driving, Maldonado the more and it lead to some success but more often than not failures due to poor judgement and bonzai moves. He could have scored good in Valencia but unfortunately took himself out due to his clash with Hamilton. This is far from the only brain dead move of his this season (I’m surprised Grosjean got banned from one race and Maldonado as of yet not gotten banned, I believe he got more incidents in his name but granted the Grosjean and Spa incident was so close to ended in horror).

    Maldonado is a hotblooded Kobayashi driving in rage.. If he can control that rage he would start scoring really well on a consistent basis. He probably thrown away as many points this season as he scored.

    • Nathhulal

      “Neither driver got much experience yet in F1 and how to work on setting up a car. This is Maldonados second year so he is getting there and hopefully learned good last year when driving next to a veteran.”
      Hadn’t Pastor comprehensively out-qualified Rubens in his debut season? Even in this season, he has consistently put the car in top 10 position , while his team mate flounders at bottom of Q2. He has shown race pace and has been in contention of higher points finish. For a driver whose nose was clean on racing incident front in 2011, he can’t suddenly be the bad guy for all the racing incidents in 2012. Unfortunately, with the reputation he has built since the Spa’11 incident, irrespective of whose mistake it is, its Pastor who gets penalized. So its time for him to drive smart and make sure he stays out of trouble, and flies under the radar ( like Nico Rosberg) and gets consistently in the 5-10 finishing positions (where the current Williams car belongs).

  • Nathhulal

    Based on his Honda years 2006-08, Rubens definitely has the capability to hustle the car around put it in position to consistently score points. And thus Rubens does make a valid claim, that lack of experience of the current drivers is definitely a factor. But one should not forget the fact that Pastor had pretty much sized up Rubens in 2011, while a more hyped Hulkenberg was only at par with Rubens in last third of 2010 season.
    So its not as if Pastor is a slouch, of course his over enthusiasm, marginal errors (and those of drivers around him) have resulted in lots of lost opportunities this season. But hey every young driver has gone through that phase, we have seen Vettel in ’09, ’10, Lewis in ’10, ’11, so its just part and parcel of the game. It’s a risk the team has taken and they will have to live with it.

    Rubens going to media is not going to change the facts, and Ruben will have to make peace with it.

    • The Imperative Voice

      To me, when you drop from 10th to 17th in one year with the same team, it’s either the car or you. I don’t think it was him. He had only three retirements his last Williams year; he was getting the car home. It was just not fast enough. Plus, I think you might be relying on an assumption Rubens was past it which his 2012 Indycar campaign does not support. He was 12th in the series (with a 4th and 5th late when he became more comfortable) not too far behind childhood buddy Kanaan, Rahal, and Hildebrand in the driver standings.

      I mean, we’re talking about someone who’s been 2nd or 3rd overall, including with Brawn as recently as 2009. Now, you could make the argument he’s buoyed by great cars but not awesome himself, but then somewhere implicit in that I think you’re also admitting the recent Williams cars ain’t all that great.

      • The Imperative Voice

        Finishing the thought…….if your cars aren’t top notch then I think it becomes all the mre important who drives them. You look at them versus say, Sauber, and perhaps they aren’t getting the pick of the young talent to push their mediocre car higher up the table.

        That being said, you could argue their driver choices are superior to, say, Toro Rosso. Not a complete botch, but I think a team looking for an edge can do it with either engines or drivers and in this case an argument can be made that the engine improvements are being held back by mediocre driver choice.

        • Nathhulal

          I have written that based on his 2006-08 drives in sub par Honda car, I do agree that Rubens is kind of driver who can definitely flatter the car with his driving skills.
          However a look at 2010 and 11 season clearly underlines that while Rubens was comfortably beating Hulkenberg for first 2/3 of the season, Pastor was immediately at pace and outperformed Rubens in qualifying. Even in this season Pastor is doing a good job in qualifications and race management. As such Ruben is right as well as he is wrong.

          If Pastor was not tagged as hot head after his Spa’11 event, his racing incidents this season would have been reviewed more fairly by the stewards.

          Its for Williams to work with Pastor and groom him to get more race finishes and that should take car of half the problem.

          About Bruno, I think he should go, coz he has not demonstrated pace, but then whenever Pastor’s race ended in misery, Bruno has has 8-10 position finish and accounted for team’s points, so that becomes an awkward position for Williams management.

          • Luigi

            Just look at his Abu Dhabi performance last season… Rubens was superb.

  • F1 Kitteh

    Maldonado can probably be calmed down but it looks like getting Senna to go faster might be more difficult.

  • MIE

    While Maldonado is capable of lapping fast on his own, he seems to lack the spare capacity needed when he gets close to another driver. Senna appears to need a lot more laps on any given track to really be able to lap quickly, and he is still making mistakes (although ususally against the barriers rather than his opposition).
    Both current Williams drivers have trown away points through incident (Maldonado) or not qualifying well enough (Senna).
    It is hard to see that Barrichello would have made such a mess of such a good car given his previous record. The money saved through lack of accident damage would surely compensate for any shortfall in the sponsorship he was able to raise, and the extra contstructors points would pay for the following season as well.

    I blame Grace for her anti age campaign! :)

  • Luigi

    Rubens should have stayed paired with Bottas or Maldonado. Of course Pastor and Bruno are hurting the team and that is as obvious as the fact that Massa has hurt Ferrari almost this entire season.

  • Rapierman

    No, I think Barrichello is only half right. Yeah, Maldo’s really screwing it up for Williams, but I think it’s more to do with the space between his ears and his attitude than anything else.

  • gsprings

    i think barrichello is right,that williams car is a capable car this year, we know the cars are capable of winning races,or getting points

  • gsprings

    and yes it has to be eating at barrichello that williams have a better car this year

  • Do we have any sense that Maldo can be corralled a bit and some race craft to develop? Wondering if that might happen. Senna took Rubens’s seat so Maldo was not the issue in that equation.

    • Nathhulal

      Good angle. Given that Rubens is complaining in Brazilian media, he is possibly taking shot at the Senna sponsors, who went for Bruno rather than Rubinho. The same backers backing Rubinho and he would still be in that Williams Car.

      Reminds me of Mark Webber’s famous “these effing kids” response after certain driver from Jr RedBull team along with Lewis caused him DNF result at the Japanese GP few years back.

      • Luigi

        Rubens is NOT complaining here. He´s spoken about it in Twitter (but only in Portuguese). As a matter of fact, once again the headlines are not exactly connected to what has been said in the interview.

  • sirf1

    I think Rubens should be in williams next year along with Bottas/Pastor,if things continue like it is now
    Williams will really start thinking about it too….

    • Nathhulal

      Sauber/Williams/FiF1 would openly embrace him, if he has big fat cheque in is wallet. As it is, his Indy drive was made possible by Brazilian sponsors. Maybe its time for him to sell them the dream to “Think Big”