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Williams look to rise from the ashes of '11

india Updated: Oct 21, 2011 03:36 IST
Vinayak Pande
Vinayak Pande
Hindustan Times
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The saying goes that the bigger they come, the harder they fall. That's pretty much the story of the Williams F1 team following their title winning season of 1997. Constructing a Formula One car

Having won the drivers' and constructors' titles, their seventh and ninth titles overall since their F1 debut in 1978, the team's fortunes fell off a cliff after their engine supplier Renault decided to end their involvement in F1.

The team has not won either title since then, coming within 12 points of winning the 2003 drivers' title.

After having scored just five points from 15 races so far in the 2011 season, the team is looking forward to 2012 and a renewed engine supplier deal with Renault.

Since their comeback as an engine supplier in 2001 and later as a team, a Renault powered car has won four drivers' titles and four constructors' titles.

Needless to say, the CEO of the Williams F1 team, Alex Burns, is excited. "We are looking forward to the renewal of our partnership with Renault," said Burns speaking to HT. "It will definitely help us move into the front half of the grid and who knows, maybe even amongst the big teams."

When it came to pinpointing the reasons for Williams' slide down the grid, Burns was fairly straightforward. "The first reason had to do with the end of our partnership with BMW," said Burns. "It forced us to reduce our expenditure at a time when the top teams were involved in something of an arms race in terms of spending on research and development.

"The second reason was not making the right technical decisions in the design of the car." The recently agreed upon Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA) has helped alleviate the spending race to an extent but due to the different parameters used to limit team expenditure, Burns could not pinpoint by how much teams have reduced their budgets in comparison to pre-2009 levels when Ferrari, McLaren and even teams like Honda and Toyota were spending an estimated $300 million a year.

"It definitely has improved to an extent," said Burns of the effects of the RRA. "Earlier it was common for teams to be using two windtunnels to design their cars, now they're only allowed to use one."

Despite Williams being outspent, Burns remains adamant that measures like standard aerodynamics should not be employed in F1. "This sport is as much a contest between constructors as it is about drivers," said Burns. "And especially for someone like me who comes from an engineering background that is a very exciting aspect of the sport."

As far as who sits in the cockpit goes, Burns has a fairly straightforward wishlist for an ideal Williams F1 driver. "Someone who is superfast, technically sound and will cost next to nothing!" Is a certain Kimi Raikkonen listening?