What is happening at Team Willy?

It has been clear for some time that things are happening at Williams F1. And the word is that Claire Williams and CEO Mike O’Driscoll have been in Venezuela in recent days, discussing the team’s sponsorship deal with the oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA). The deal, which is rumoured to be worth as much as $50 million a year, is now in the third year of a five year deal and things are not going very well. There was the one victory in 2012 in Spain but beyond that Maldonado has been pretty unsuccessful. He blames this on the team. The team, on the other hand, seems to be of the opinion that the Venezuelan driver can only win races when the stars are aligned in a most unusual fashion. There is no question that Pastor is quick, but he still does have a tendency to screw up too often. Money is not the issue. Despite the political problems since the death of President Hugo Chaves, PDVSA seems to be able and willing to fund Maldonado’s move to another team, but the contract with Williams is written in such a way as to force Venezuela to stop Pastor driving elsewhere without Williams being suitably compensated. Maldonado can move to another team if the Williams situation is sorted out and if he can find some who wants him. With money he is attractive. Without it, he is not.

Lotus are only really interested if the ongoing deal with Infinity Racing Partners (now Quantum) is not completed, in which case the team needs cash. If the Quantum money arrives, the Enstone team will choose Nico Hulkenberg as Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement. He is being linked to Force India, but there is no explanation about why the German would consider this more attractive than Lotus.

From a Williams point of view the loss of Maldonado will mean that at least some money must be found from elsewhere. There is no shortage of space on the cars but results in recent years have been poor, despite the Spanish win, and the team is now strengthening its technical departments. If the replacement for Maldonado was Felipe Massa, then there is an additional asset to attract mew backers. Despite some rumours, Massa does not have much sponsorship behind him and is looking to see what can be done. There have been rumours for some time that Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) – a former Williams sponsor – wants to get back into F1 to back up its global expansion plans, but it only wants to get involved if it can make the fuel itself. There may be possible commercial deals on the back of that but Petrobras is not currently in a position to commit large sums of money to F1 sponsorship because it has unions striking for more money, although the dispute has been disguised as a protest against the state-run oil company auctioning some of its huge offshore oil fields.

Getting Massa into Williams would be a great idea for Formula 1 as the sport wants to have a Brazilian driver to keep up interest in the sport in South America.

104 thoughts on “What is happening at Team Willy?

  1. Hopefully Massa does go to Williams.

    Two things he can do without:-
    a). Team orders – well, at least the overt ones.
    b). Numerous comforting and encouraging radio words from a race engineer – hallmarks of a loser.

  2. “Lotus are only really interested if the ongoing deal with Infinity Racing Partners (now Quantum) is not completed”

    I was thinking reading ” Movement at Lotus F1 Team” that the deal Quantum/Genii was done and effective ?!

  3. What’s your take on Marcel Boekhoorn buying Wolff’s stock and bring Giedo van de Garde and McGregor to Williams?
    (Marcel Boekhoorn is very rich and Vd Garde’s father in law. The info above was published in de Telegraaf including quotes)

  4. Given a choice of Felipe and Pastor, I think that Felipe would win in the popularity stakes hands-down, but popularity doesn’t always win as we know from previous events over the years.

    Would be nice to see Felipe back in a drive for next year, just a case of whether Calire can get money out of PDVSA + getting Pastor moved across to another team.

  5. to be honest, why would anyone pour large sums of money into a team such as williams? they are but a footnote to F1 history and it is painfully obvious that they are simply going nowhere. each and every year they just get worse and worse.

    for the sums of money expended by PDVSA i would want to have at least one foot on the podium. TV exposure is almost non existent and when it does accur usually it is to highlight maldonados often unseemly misadventures.

    when one sees this once great team battling it out with the tailenders it says to me, at least, time to sell up, move on and try something else as they are simply going nowhere. a miserable single point this season[ to date] is worse than woeful.

      1. Too right. What about Ferrari in the late 80s and early to mid 90s? They were a shell of their former (and later) greatness. Williams have the pedigree. Winning is in FW’s DNA. Let’s hope they can return to the good phase.

        1. Ferrari mostly kept winning in that time span. The winless stretch was 91-94. They came close to the championship in 1990, won a couple of constructor’s championships in the 80s. Williams dry spell is far drier. The win at Spain last year is now looking like a freak result as their form has not improved this year.

      2. Although, arguably, this is the worst season in Williams Grand Prix Engineering / Williams F1’s history. Given the expectations at the time, I’d say that even 1977 with the old March and Patrick Nève was a better year for them.

        1. And Ferrari had car sales as well as Fiat supporting them during their funk years; what does Williams have? PDVSA until Pastor pulls the plug.

      3. Rarely (never?) for this long without a return to form. Ferrari were awful for about 7 years in the 90s, but this decade-long slump reminds me more of Brabham post 1985 or Tyrrell post 1979 or so.

        Please, please prove me wrong!

        1. I’m inclined to agree. It really seems hard to imagine them pulling it back from here. The teams you mentioned are those that sprung to my mind as well. Let’s not forget that Ferrari, even in their awful ’92 season, were still scoring points every couple of races and hitting the odd podium, and employing drivers of the calibre of Alesi and Berger. This is not the situations with Williams.

          1. And in 1992, points meant finishing 6th or better in a field of 26 starters, somewhat harder than 10th or better out of 22.

            1. In actual practice, I doubt it was harder and strongly suspect it was easier then, given the dramatic difference in reliability between current cars and those of 20+ years ago.

            2. though on the other hand between a third and a half of the field would retire from your average race, making it somewhat easier.

        2. Or Team Lotus – Successful in the 60s and 70s – a handful of victories in the 80’s and then into the obscurity of the backmarkers in the 90’s until closure.

          The parallels are humbling – Williams successful in two decades (the 80s and 90s), a handful of victories in the 2000s and then into obscurity in the 2010s, except for the one win.

          The difference being, of course, that the man (one of) who presided over the successes is still at the helm, while Team Lotus lost that stability after Chapman’s death.

          Personally, I’ve never rated Maldonado, he’s too much of a ‘hot head’ making mistakes when getting frustrated. And while I don’t think Williams will ever get back to championship winning ways, it will be interesting to see what they can do with Mercedes power next season.

    1. I don’t think it’s been the same (nor ever will be again) since the days of Frank & Patrick (and Adrian). It was their combo that won.

      Williams knew how to win when these racers owned and ran the team, but the new regime (no disrespect to Claire) doesn’t appear to know how to do it with the new generation of “business” minds/strategy running the team. Yes, the passage of time may prove me wrong, but I doubt it.

  6. Hi Joe. All very interesting. I’m thinking if Williams could replace Pastor with a more technically experienced driver like Massa that would be better for the team.

    Was also thinking the other day we’ve not heard about the troubles of Vijay and Force India recently. Have they got suitable funding for next year?

  7. It’s all getting a bit silly isn’t it? I think Pastor needs to be careful when he points to his triumph at Spain last year as evidence that he’s ready to win given capable equipment. There’s no doubt that on his day he’s a fine driver but in blunt honesty those days are the rare exceptions to the rule.

    For example in 2012 Williams supplied him with a reasonably competitive car which by rights should have secured at least fifth in the constructors championship and a handful more podiums than it did.

    There was the odd reliability glitch which robbed him of points and yet he squandered a vast amount of points by having accidents, collisions and penalties.

    He brings a lot of money into the team for sure, but he also costs the team prize money because he doesn’t best use of his car on a consistent basis.

    Even this season whilst he has on balance been stronger than Bottas and has on occasion put the car where it has little right to be he has also too often thrown his car off the track, this is a waste because on these occasions his rookie team-mate had actually come tantalizingly close to scoring points.

  8. Hi joe what about the rumors that van de garde’s father inlaw is looking to purchase toto wolf’s shares? Would this possibility create a seat for the Dutchman?

  9. Having been a Williams fan since Brands 1980 when Alan Jones won the first F1 race I watched (as good a way as any to pick a team to support) I would lose no sleep at all if Maldonado were to leave. He can clearly be quick but makes too many “mistakes” and seems to me to have a temperament which doesn’t fit in an F1 car (Spa 2011, Monaco 2012 come to mind). As for bullying Bottas off track at the last corner to get from one pointless position to another….

    Massa can be inconsistent but is head and shoulders above Maldonado.

  10. Amazing that PDVSA signed a costly long term contract without a good get-out-early clause in case the team underperformed.

    As for Maldonado his tendency to screw things up too often is no worse that the team’s tendency to do the same.

  11. Joe, I’ve heard rumours that Maldonado had a seat fitting at Lotus a month or so ago. Is there any truth in this from what you’ve heard?

  12. “Rumour” has it that the new star in the South American driver market is Felipe Nasr. Apparently, he ticks all the boxes and he comes with MONEY!! Would appreciate your opinion.

  13. Great insight Joe. I’d love a Williams resurgence, Massa would be a much better bet than Maldonado, far more rounded driver. He’d hopefully thrive in a fresh environment. Any truth in the rumour that Rob Smedley is off there next year also?

  14. Would Massa really want to go to Williams? He may not have been great in recent years, but this is a driver who came within one corner of winning a driver’s championship back in 2008. Does he really want to risk tooling around at the back, fighting Marussias and Caterhams?

    As a Williams fan first and foremost, it pains me to say that they’ve been in a rut for years (Spain 2012 notwithstanding). Irrespective of the drivers they run, the engine they use and the technical people they have on board, nothing seems to work and they slip further and further away from the front of the field. This year has not been enjoyable viewing in that regard.

    As for Hulkenberg, if he doesn’t get the Lotus seat, there is something seriously wrong with F1.

  15. “The team, on the other hand, seems to be of the opinion that the Venezuelan driver can only win races when the stars are aligned in a most unusual fashion.”

    If the folks at Williams really believe that, then they should release PM and his great flipping wads of cash, and find a driver they believe in. It’s obvious that the money Pastor brings is being wasted by the folks at Williams, as Sauber has jack for funding and is stomping the ever living !@#$ out of Williams. Just imagine what Sauber could do with Pastor and the money he brings…

    1. …imaging how much of that money would be wasted rebuilding the car when he writes it off for the twelfth time!

    2. I the real world they can only “release him” if the can. Make next months payroll and next years R andD.

      F1 teams eat cash on an industrial scale!!!

  16. I’m not sure there is a possible ‘ win ‘ scenario for Williams these days . Which .. is a bit tragic in light of their glorious past . I’ll keep hoping mind you as those memories of Keke , Alan , Alain etc don’t fade easily . But ……

      1. Ok… Do you mean by that that Rubens doesn’t merit consideration, money or no? Or do you instead mean that there is not, in fact, a need for money in Grove if Pastor leaves?

  17. Reuters are reporting that the funds the country provides its athletes abroad has been halted as an investigation into their activities is now underway by the Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez.

    1. About time. To think what could be done with the money wasted on the likes of Giancarlo Serenelli is painfull

  18. Martin Brundle was talking to Monisha on Sky and told her Hulk already had a signed contract with Lotus, saying he got it from a reliable source…any idea who?

    1. One thing that people forget all of the time is that there are contracts, and contract options. Teams and drivers sign option contracts all the time. Typically these give one or both of the parties a set period of time (usually 30, 60 or 90 days) during which both parties are not allowed to negotiate with another party or sign any other contract.
      My guess is that Hulkenberg has signed an option with Lotus, which will be converted to a full contract if (as Lotus hopes) their re-structuring is completed and they have their pile of $$$. However if the option period expires without it being converted to a contract, then both parties are still free to explore other options.

    1. Did the deal step on Bernie’s toes? He certainly upset Bernie in some way, was Bernie doing a deal with PDVSA?

  19. The real story here is that the Venezuelan minister of sport announced this week that the attorney general is investigating Venezuelan athletes for alleged currency trading in excess of Venezuela’s strict currency controls. She cited one driver exchanging $66 million in a year; no names have been made public. IndyCar driver EJ Viso on Friday abruptly pulled out of the IndyCar finale, citing a “stomach bug”. Viso allegedly fell ill Wednesday but apparently told no one until Friday morning (he never went to California to race). Yet, Viso was quoted in Venezuela’s papers on Tuesday as saying that his funds were held up due to the currency exchange investigation, and on Friday he released a statement to the effect that his commitment to Bolivarian revolution is unwavering (who questioned it, and why?).

    1. Given Viso’s last minute ‘illness’ that kept him from the Indycar finale and Claire Williams visit to Venezuela, one must seriously wonder whether Maldonado will even finish out this season with the team.

      The obvious conclusion in Viso’s case was that funds for this current season were left unpaid. Is Williams due funds even now? How will the team respond?

      1. The bigger question is now which drivers, if any, are facing charges for currency fraud. The minister alleges forgery. It is important to recall that no drivers were named or implicated. Five drivers allegedly were “arrested” but that can be as simple as being questioned but not charged. But motorsport is getting a closer look in Venezuela and that cannot be a good thing.

  20. The way is being paved for customer cars.
    Williams is on its last breath, Sauber almost went under and had to take Russian money bundled with an inexperienced youngster, Caterham says F1 is really too expensive for them, Lotus has serious financial troubles, it’s surprising Mallya can still keep Force India afloat, Toro Rosso is up for sale, a Russian billionaire for some reason has rescued Marussia.

    So the idea of customer cars could be quite attractive to some.
    If the Venezuelan money disappears, Williams will loose its arrogance as well.

  21. Williams should better look for a more relaxed driver in 2014 as the new regulations will need experienced, tactical wizards behind the steering wheels from the Prost/Alonso type to be successful. Maldonado is the opposite. Imagine him acting with 8 gears, ERS, fuel saving, kick-down pedal etc. has something unintentionally comical. And Bottas is still too young.

  22. “the contract with Williams is written in such a way as to force Venezuela to stop Pastor driving elsewhere without Williams being suitably compensated”

    I have to admire the William legal team, sponsorship deals negotiated with both RBS and Venezuela seem to have been written in a very “water tight” fashion resulting in Williams locking both parties into the full financial terms of the deal. Despite wanting to seemingly exit their respective sponsorship contracts early, admittedly for entirely different reasons.

    From my armchair, despite the very poor season this year Williams do seem to have (another!) good recovery plan in place for next year. Williams acted decisively sacking Mike Coughlan and I think the subsequent hiring of Pat Symonds could be an inspired move, especially given the substantial rule changes next year. The rule changes may mean the knowledge / know how lost from Symonds not working in the sport for a few years whilst serving the ‘Singapore-gate’ ban may not be such a problem as everyone is in essence designing cars from a clean sheet of paper.

    Also if the alleged $250m which Mercedes have spent on developing the 2014 spec engine are to be believed then Williams may have chosen the right engine partner at the right time – but time will tell. I’m sure Renault and Ferrari will be spending equally large(ish) amounts of money on 2014 engine spec development too.

    Joe previously you have mentioned in GP+ and on sidepodcast about Massa potentially having access to backing from Santander, is this backing now looking uncertain?

    As a William’s fan having Massa in the car alongside Bottas next season is far more exciting than a sometimes hot headed (Spa 2011) Maldonado. In the difficult times over the past few years I’m sure Maldonado’s cash was much needed by the team, despite the hot headed antics which went with it.

    I’m wondering if Massa is unable to find the cash needed and Maldonado does leave the team if a driver who is fast and has sponsorship behind him such as Sutil would be considered? (although Sutil may be already signed by other team)

    Kris (disclosure: William’s fan through and through)
    P.S Really enjoyed the driver market article in GP+

  23. Was the breakup talks initiated by Williams or PDVSA? If it was Williams then surely to even contemplate getting rid of him must mean that they are fairly confident in delivering a competitive machine next year and they already have a replacement sponsor?

  24. I still don’t understand the “fans” who say things like “when one sees this once great team battling it out with the tailenders it says to me, at least, time to sell up, move on….”, as someone wrote above.

    Plenty of “funk” time for all big teams, and I’m not including Red Bull – yet. Let’s see if they even hang around during a “funk”, first.

    McLaren had lean years, Ferrari once went 12 years without success, if memory serves. Should they have walked? Should Sauber, having won only one race in 20-odd years?

    Williams’ form worries me, year on year, yes, but ’05 was a decent handful of podiums against the monster cars of Renault and McLaren, ’06 was a fast but fragile beast (and in the wake of BMW pulling the plug, or rug), ’07 saw a half decent run by an underdog team (by then), ’09 was good for Rosberg, and last years was a decent car. There’s a big difference between being so poor the money runs out and the team closes, and needing to figure out bringing the technical department out of the dark.

    For the record, I wish Parr was still there…

    1. “Ferrari once went 12 years without success”

      Depends what you mean. I don’t think they’ve ever gone more than three years without a race win, but there was a period from 1990 to 1995 when they certainly weren’t competitive, albeit winning at least one race in most years.

      If you’re talking about championship wins, they did have a 15 year period without constructors wins from 1984-1998, and a 20 year gap from 1980 to 1999 without a drivers’ championship win. But then Williams last won the drivers’ championship in 1997…

      Geek, moi?

  25. “The team, on the other hand, seems to be of the opinion that the Venezuelan driver can only win races when the stars are aligned in a most unusual fashion.”

    If that is indeed the team’s opinion of Maldonado then I think it’s a bit harsh. Rather than celebrate the fact that Maldonado perfectly executed his one and only shot at victory when the stars did indeed align perfectly, they dismiss the fact that he is unable to create further miracles out of thin air..

    If Williams don’t want to rely on the stars aligning then they need to build better cars for their drivers to use, pure and simple. They struggle to build cars with reasonable pace these days, let alone race-winning pace.

  26. Joe, how do you know in what way the Williams contract with PDVSA has been written? Has Williams provided you with a copy? If not, can we interpret your argument in this respect as mere speculation?

    Your comments about this issue continue to be, in my opinion, completely oblivious as per what PDVSA could have agreed with Williams.

    1. You can believe what you like. I was told because I asked. And I don’t post links. This is not a free advertising service for others.

      1. Joe – Apologies ( links issue ) I did not know so I’ll refrain in the future and simply refer to the source of the info .. rather than the complete link . But … it is now going around the press like wild fire here in the US that Venezuela will be withholding all current payments due to athletes and sports teams ( especially auto racing ) and may in fact suspend all future sponsorship ( AW , NYTimes WSJ etc ) permanently … so … assuming whats coming out of Venezuela is true … bad news for the F1 grid I’m afraid .. and especially for Williams …. sad really .

      2. You should at the very least have the courtesy of treating your sources with respect Joe. I posted the link for I had previously email it to you, as I did when the contract was originally leaked and when Congressman Carlos Ramos raised the issue with Williams, in both of which times you wrote about without citing the source, and I didn’t get a reply. It is not my intention to advertise anything on this site, don’t need it at all. It’s just that I believe you are doing yourself and your readers a disservice by making ignorant comments that have no basis in reality.

        1. With respect, you are not the only person in the world who saw the supposed PDVSA contract online and alerted me to the fact it was there. There were dozens of people who told me about it. I treated it with extreme caution because I am not sure that anyone could prove it was the real contract? How can antone possibly know whether it is not a piece of political propaganda? The only way that one find out such things is to talk to the people involved and, if you try to do that, you will find that they will say “No comment”. So, the only way that one can find out the rights and wrongs of such a situation is to have quite of the record chats so that one understands the story. That is how it is done and you cannot do that unless you know the right people. So before you start spouting off about ignorance, ask yourself just how much you think you know and whether it all right.

          1. I may have not been the only person that tipped you about the contract, but I am most certainly the one who tipped you about Congressman Ramos communications to Williams (which I helped draft).

            “So, the only way that one can find out the rights and wrongs of such a situation is to have quite of the record chats so that one understands the story. That is how it is done and you cannot do that unless you know the right people. So before you start spouting off about ignorance, ask yourself just how much you think you know and whether it all right.”

            But that’s precisely the point Joe: the “right people” you have been talking to (I presume Williams unless you have now developed contacts inside PDVSA which I seriously doubt) are telling you pork pies. They didn’t do due diligence, and therefore in their desperation to get all that free money from PDVSA they couldn’t possibly know whether PDVSA had followed proper procedure in contract approval (which they didn’t). It follows that whatever argument they may have told you off the record, such as “PDVSA will have to pay settlement/our contract is watertight” and similar other BS is entirely inaccurate, for should PDVSA decide to, unilaterally, “breach” the contract there’s nothing Williams can do for the contract is illegal in the first place, and an illegal contract is unenforceable in a court of law.

            Also, issues related to PDVSA contracts can only be resolved in Venezuelan courts, unless, like in the case of major contracts between PDVSA and other oil corporations, it submits to ICSID which in turn needs special sanction by the government.

            So ask yourself this: were all those steps followed? My belief, and that of people I have consulted about this matter, is they weren’t, and I hope you can agree that I have much better sources in my country than you. Claire Williams et al can give you all the “no comment” replies they wants, and make all kind of baseless stories about the sanctity of the contract, but that doesn’t change the fact that the relationship Williams – PDVSA hinges entirely on whether or not Rafael Ramirez & co want to continue funding Pastor. Word in Caracas is that they won’t, and so what’s Williams going to do about it?

            1. Truly fascinating insight.

              It’s difficult to disagree with any of of your points, except perhaps Williams lack of due diligence.

              Williams may have fully realized they would have no legal recourse were PDVSA to withhold funding. With no one else offering the team 50 million dollars per year, it’s possible they took the money and quietly accepted the risks.

              Being that Williams is a publicly traded company, one does wonder if this willful blindness could create problems for the firm. Much may depend on how the arrangement was publicly described by the team’s financial statements and their leadership.

              Shareholder lawsuits have been built on far less.

            2. Interesting points. In my experience, contracts often have the juristiction for any dispute resolution. It would be mind boggling if this weren’t the UK (ie where Williams is based). Therefore they could seek action in the UK courts, rather than in Venezuela as you suggest. If the action were found in Williams favour, the court might use any UK based assets of PDVSA as security/compensation until PDVSA paid up.

              1. Perhaps not so mind boggling when one takes into account Williams troubled financial situation, and that this single deal reportedly offered the team 50 million per year.

                One does wonder if payments are now in arrears, and what that would mean for the rest of Maldonado’s season.

              2. Quite right Adrian, but for PDVSA to agree to have the UK as jurisdiction for any dispute resolution it must have requested a special government action (presidential decree, special law, Congress approval) that would allow in the specific case of the contract to cede Venezuelan jurisdiction and accept the UK’s.

                There’s no record, anywhere, of that special action having ever taken place…

    2. Actually, the contract has been circulating around for some time, since someone form the Venezuelan opposition has published it on the web. Try googling for it.

        1. From your writings Joe, it seems clear that Williams has refused to deny the legitimacy of the document.

          Why would Williams “no comment” a document that was not only fraudulent, but could harm the firm? They wouldn’t. If the document were false, they would have said so. There would be no downside in them doing attacking a faked document.

          The calculus changes for a document that is accurate. There is a downside in admitting it’s legitimacy. Being a publicly traded company, Williams cannot lie and say it’s false if it is not.

          Williams refusal to declaim the document is actually strong evidence of its legitimacy.

          1. No, saying nothing tends to bury stories. It is a PR strategy. In this day and age a denial acts as an accelerator because the monkeys with typewriters simply write another story. Say nothing and they write nothing.

            1. Actually Joe, it depends entirely on the characteristics of the denier and the tenacity of the reporters.

              A “no comment” from an organization that rarely responds can certainly bury a story. But from a group that regularly opens up to the press, the same “no comment” can set a story on fire.

              Williams is the latter, so when they respond with an uncharacteristic “no comment”, a story like this can and should catch on fire.

              In this particular case, Williams would have tremendous reason to declaim this document if it were false. Their ‘no comment’ as much as confirms this document’s legitimacy. To be fair, Williams’ denial is just one of many indicators suggesting the document is absolutely genuine.

              Combined with the recent precedent of EJ Viso in Indycar, one must seriously consider whether Maldonado has raced his last in Formula One. It’s should be a bigger story than it’s been. He’s a relatively recent race winner who may not finish out the season.

              1. If you no comment EVERYTHING of this ilk, then no one can ever no whether it is no comment because it is something or no comment because it isn’t. If you only no comment because the answer is embarrassing then that will be the story. It is why politicians can’t no comment easily.

                1. Yes, absolutely.

                  Williams ‘no comment’ is not typical of the team. Formula One teams, like politicians, are publicity driven businesses.

                  It’s why this ‘no comment’ from Williams should be creating more fire than it has.

    3. Wasn’t the entire contract posted online a while back? Didn’t it stipulate something that there had to be a Venezuelan driver but not necessarily Maldonado?

  27. I know we all expect F1 to be the pinnacle of motorsport. However, reading about various teams chasing money – has confirmed to me that a budget cap is absolutely necessary. My concern is seeing team drop off the grids.

    I fail to see how this would impact F1. Teams will be forced to be creative. Do we spend money on a driver or some technical innovation? Sure, implementation of any cap would be difficult – but this problem is man-made therefore can be solved by indivduals.

    1. Alternate plan to spending cap:

      1. A luxury tax, ala MLB, which permits teams to spend whatever they like, but above a given threshold they pay a hefty % into a pool which is then distributed to poorer teams.

      2. A serious modification to the distribution of Bernie Bucks. The current system is quite effective at helping the rich teams get stronger and keeping the poor teams poor.

      IMO, doing both could make a world of difference, while the current regime is quite effective at maintaining a caste system.

  28. Joe, do you reckon there is any grounds for optimism regarding Williams prospects for 2014? I have a hunch, no more, that they have something up their sleeve. ??
    Williams leading the midfield next year, maybe even giving ALO and RAI a bit of healthy competition, now that would be a turn up for a continued Smedley/Massa union !!

  29. It’s Brasil 2014. We’ve just seen Felipe Massa win a nail biting grand prix for Williams. As the podium ceremony starts race fans around the world agree: There could hardly be a more pleasing result to witness for two great phoenixes.

    Racing gods, make it so.

  30. McLaren & Ferrari have had periods where the team performance were worrying but never did they perform as bad as the Williams. Williams since the BMW days have been on a downhill curve only.

  31. Massa would be an OK call from the experience point of view but by-and-large, he’s nowhere near the same driver he was in 2008. Whether that’s a consequence of his accident, or age, or just being mentally hammered by Alonso is a bit of a moot point. If he were paired with a proper young hotshot driver (which may be Bottas) then it could be an OK partnership under the circs. I think Maldonado’s blown his gaff, despite his win (which will surely go down in F1 history as one of the biggest freak results) he’s not really improved as a driver since his debut, and Bottas has matched well with him. Assuming Bottas improves with experience and confidence, there’s no real reason aside from money to keep Maldonado. If Williams can keep the PDVSA cash without the liability of having Maldonado behind the wheel, so much the better.

  32. It’s amazing how many different engine manufacturers, technical heads and drivers that Williams has gone through in recent years. This lack of continuity can’t be helping their situation any.

  33. Petrobras has never paid any monies for a pure sponsorship deal. In the past they have only done Technical Partnerships where they can make the fuel and like you already said, some commerciality coming out of it. But they will never just hand over cold hard cash to put their name on a car.

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