Reading Edd Straw’s article at AUTOSPORT today, I was reminded of the hill that Williams F1 has to climb to get back to even 2012 performance levels after a miserable outing in 2013. The 2014 regulation changes have given some new optimism for the team but as Claire Williams explained to Mr. Straw, the teams who did well last year will most likely be the teams to beat in 2014:
“I don’t think that the [competitive] form will change too significantly, but what it does offer is an opportunity for teams who are a second or more off the pace to look at what they are doing and look at doing things in a different way.”
The question may be, what gains will Williams find by looking at these regulations differently and what will the overall impact be? As Lotus F1 technical director, Nick Chester, said today:
“From our perspective the figures look promising and development has been positive,” he said. “That said, we are very much working with very little idea of what the other teams are doing.”
Working in a vacuum is most likely what all the teams are doing at this point and it will be interesting to see if Williams, or Lotus F1 for that matter, will have examined the regulations and come up with a new and unique way of applying their design and engineering genius to claw back performance they have lost over the past 18 months.
“That’s what we are trying to do and all of the changes we have made this year have been about making the most of the resources we have to embrace the rule changes for next year.”
The expectations are very high for the teams new (veteran) driver Felipe Massa and they are very keen to have his input into the development of the 2014 chassis:
“…obviously, we expect him to do that at the racetrack but we also expect him to be back at the factory helping to develop.
“He is not one of those guys who just wants to turn up at the race track – he is an integral part now because of the experience he has. He should be able to help the process.
“He wants to muck in, get his hands dirty and everyone knows we love those kinds of drivers at Williams.”
Can Felipe bring some Ferrari know-how to the team and make Williams a better package for 2014? Will the regulation changes allow for some crafty new thinking from the team? Massa is a veteran of 193 races so one has to consider he will play a vital role in helping the team and coupled with Pat Symonds and a new engine supply from Mercedes, the future could look bright…or at least brighter than 2013 was.