I have very mixed feelings about this – I like both Senna and Barichello.
I wish that Rubens had had a chance for a 20th year in F1 and a proper send-off. Based on his comments last year, it didn’t sound as if he was ready to retire or particularly sentimental about having a “final year good-bye” to the sport and his fans.
As for Bruno, well….my opinion is similar to lots of others – he’s very likeable and seems to have some talent, but does he have enough talent?
What’s saddest of all is that Williams, if the reports are true as regards Senna, has been reduced to two pay drivers, neither of whom has shown great promise. The whole thing is slightly sad, unfortunately.
during their 8 races together the score is 5:3 to Petrov in the races and 5:3 to Senna in qualifying, this tells us that Bruno is the quicker guy but lacks Petrov’s race experience, this will come but speed is either there or it isn’t.
Would be good if they signed Senna as their new driver but kept RB on as driver coach/development driver maybe even offer him a place on the board to develop the team. RB gets a decent alternative role and Senna and Maladona’donaldo get a good coach.
Joe, in all your years of reporting F1, what has been the most that a “paid” driver brought to a team for a seat. This $16M, if the case seems to be right at the top of the list. I do remember back in the 1980’s, engines moved with a driver or two, so that would count for a fair wedge of funds, but Senna seems to be bringing cash (Sponsors) not an engine deal to the table.
What’t with all the Senna bashing/Rubens loving? I haven’t seen anything from Rubens in the past two years which suggests he has earned this drive through consistently outperforming the car. Senna had a decent stint in the Lotus/Renault, and I thought he showed quite well for himself. Technical feedback – maybe Rubens might have the upper hand, but if the other guy is bringing $15m, I suggest that buys itself a fair bit more performance.
“but if the other guy is bringing $15m, I suggest that buys itself a fair bit more performance.”
Fascinating quote that, it’d be interesting to know how much performance $15M does buy. Obviously very hard to normalise for other factors. Currently the rich teams are on top, but it wasn’t so long ago that Toyota were spending money like they were running the car on saffron. And building it from platinum and golden eagles’ beaks. BAR before them.
Of course, just because Senna brings sponsorship worth $15M, doesn’t mean that Williams would have had a naked car otherwise, presumably it’s $15M where they might otherwise have had 10. Or 5. Or a packet of salt and vinegar. Muddies the water a bit.
And one wonders whether budget is related to performance this year or next year. Brawn GP managed wonders on a shoestring, but a car developed with Honda millions. So are we hoping for a 2013 Williams with legs? Well, wheels.
Tough call. Would be fascinating to analyse, but the data is hardly in the public domain.
To see the Williams team go through these steps truly saddens me. Sir Frank may need the money in-order to help get the team on the circuit, but it makes me wonder if one day this once great team may go the way of Team Lotus & Brabham.
Rubens you really deserve this seat – If the car needs top level tech feedback combined with consistent high level performance you still have to be the clear choice today. I hope you have the luck to get this place and repay their faith in taking Williams “second generation” forward in their fortunes.
Oh well, it happens to them all eventually. Except Ferrari.
Anyone want to take bets on how long it is before Williams does a Tyrrell? Aka a Vanwall, Cooper, Brabham, or a (real) Lotus.
I do miss the fact that there are very few genuine racers at the helms of the current teams. You know, the guys who struggled around building, engineering and racing their own cars for years before getting a break in F1. The ones who are there for the love of racing.
I’ve often thought it would have been better for Williams to find somewhere else to go and compete, but these days there’s almost nothing for an engineering-led racing company to do. Le Mans, maybe. Spec formulas abound and almost nothing else has the prestige of F1.
If this comes to pass, I’m sure it’ll be one of the final nails in the coffin. Adam Parr ought to be ashamed of himself, but people like that rarely are. He’ll be OK, I’m sure he’s already skimmed off more than enough to keep him in tanning salons for the rest of his life.
They could do far worse. I’m not a fan of Maldonado but he had a good fairly good first season all things considered and Senna will run strongly. Williams made some big changes towards the end of last year so a ‘development’ year with no big salaries and two solid drivers bringing in wads of cash might be a good launchpad for 2013.
It is a sad day at Williams, I did an analysis of what each driver brought to each team in terms of results last year, well Williams with this combination have the two drivers who brought the least results for their team together. In race performance Senna was bettered by Karun and Vitaly so the odds are he we be for a third season the weakest driver. Petrov would be a better choice if you still need a packet of money.
My view here as a lifelong Williams fan is definitely sadness but tinged with a hint of pragmatism. Williams are not in a place now where they can attract a top driver, hard to say but true. They have to focus this year on building a far better car and being up at the front of the midfield again. Great drivers can generally provide half a second or so over a good driver and maybe 3/4 second over a mediocre driver. Last years car was about 2-2.5 seconds off the pace. On this basis, you may as well spend a year with two good (don’t think either driver is mediocre) drivers who bring in a stack of money and plow that money into a car which is only 0.5 – 1 second off the pace. Then, maybe next year after a better season, better drivers will be available.
I see your point and I do agree in principle. But I also feel that there needs to be a clearly developed and communicated plan on HOW the car will be developed. Simply throwing money at the team won’t in itself solve the performance problem. In my opinion the team needs to do more to strengthen its design and development capabilities. In short, I feel the team needs to be ‘wider & deeper’ in its technical development areas. This is a cultural shift which takes both time and money to achieve. Unfortunately I fear the team may run out of one or the other before it succeeds.
Agree totally with this but I think they’ve gone some way to doing this already. Don’t forget they’ve already replaced one man with three by swapping in Coughlan, Gillan and Somerville for Michael. This has increased the width and removed what sounded like a serious bottleneck.
I do think you’re right that it’s a race against time though. No improvement this year and no big sponsor signing before the end of the season and the slope really will be looking very icy.
I can’t help but think that Williams has had it’s chips. This feels like one last ‘let’s spend every last penny we can (from wherever it comes) trying to build a better car this year in the hope we can find some better people off the back of it’.
If it works, great. If it doesn’t I can’t see them being around with the same owners in 2014.
He’s still listed as Team Principal on the official F1 site, so officially at least he hasn’t stepped aside as boss. Having said that, I’d imagine that his activities in that capacity have been different to most of the other team principals for quite some years – Patrick Head being a big part of that.
The real question boils down to : is Frank Williams (and by extension, the team of which he is principal) capable enough of modernising and moving with the times or is he showing signs of employing out-moded management and engineering practices contributing to the decline of Williams F1?
I expect that your answer would be a fairly solid “No”, which is reasonable. But the question is worth asking nonetheless.
And even if he does step down as team principal, a replacement might find it hard to step into his shoes if the old boss is still turning up at the offices and the races all the time – Martin Whitmarsh always seems to look a little more sweaty for the race weekends when Ron Dennis attends, but maybe it’s my imagination.
The impact of this sort of thing of course ultimately comes down to the individuals in question, so it would depend on who they could bring into the role as much as it would on FW. But in your experience of the man and the team, do you think he’d be prone to excessive oversight or be able to hold back and let a new principal do the job?
So, 18 years after a Senna last drove for Williams we now have the situation of a Senna, in an underperforming Williams……..
I would have gone for Rubens, but they clearly need the money. It’s sad, when I was growing up Williams was the team to beat with Mansell and Piquet. Now, they look like going the same way as Tyrrell, Lotus, Brabham, etc.
The situation is the reverse, I hope for Williams sake. Ayrton joined Williams when they were a championship winning team, and they had a slight back fire due to regulation changes but were back on form the year after.
Bruno joins Williams when they are at their worst ever, and hopefully he will contribute to their rise to (their former) glory.
I’m not sure why some people think this is such a disaster for Williams, ok it’s a shame that a team has to allow money to influence its driver selection but it was always thus in F1.
Don’t forget that Alonso was never on their shopping list, the options were, Rubens, Sutill, Petrov or Senna. Anyone else is either under contract, too old or too in experienced. Rubens is the most known quantity in F1 history, a pretty quick driver but no superstar, he also apparently has got up the noses of a few people at Williams and is of course quite old, will he still be able to do the job going forward? Nobody knows, at some point he will simply be too old, that point might be now, this makes him a risky choice.
Sutill has speed and is a lot less erratic than he used to be, he did a good job last season but coud end up doing a spell in the big house at some point in 2012 so again he is a risky choice.
Petrov has a couple of seasons under his belt and has done a half decent job, he is less of a risky choice than the others but it is clear that he is no superstar, a solid performer but no more than that.
This leaves Senna, how good is he? We know that he can drive an F1 to the required level to be competative, his seventh place grid slot at Spa proves that, can he deliver consistently? Does he have that extra something that makes a great driver? Nobody knows, you cant judge a guy from a few races here and there in a HRT or Renault, he needs a good full season or two in the same team before anyone can judge his talent. There is a good chance that he will turn out to be in the Webber, Massa, Rosberg category of drivers, but there is also a small chance that he might be better than that, it is this possibility that raises him above the others, and the cash obviously!
I think this is the sort of choice where you want to step back and reconsider after half a dozen races. Bruno hasn’t exactly had the best means to showcase his talent in F1 so far – the HRT in his first season was so poorly run that any comparison is meaningless – the state of the car probably had more effect on performance than the drivers. He was brought in to Renault with little warning and with a car that had serious handling quirks so again not easy to show well against a team-mate used to it.
A full season in a team that has a solid engineering base should prove whether the early promise was genuine, the only issue really is that Williams aren’t that well known for molly-coddling their drivers. Whether Bruno has the mental strength to ignore that and get on with the job is unsure. I suspect he may surprise us and to be honest, when the choice is between solid feedback and no money to do anything with it and unknown ability but the money to work with, who knows what the right decision is?
Oh well, here we go. Williams is just a copy of a distance figure in the shadow of a once great team. They´ve always made some strange decisions, I mean, look at all the champions they kicked out. But that didn´t matter, because they were front runners at the time.
Clearly Rubens is a nice guy, but not up to the job last year, so I understand they let him go. But Senna, who didn´t convince very much, apart from a single good showing during qualifying. I´d rather have seen Sutil in the car, but hey, it´s not up to me.
They will have trouble getting past Q1, I´m sure.