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GP Week : Issue 216
some F1 teams, Williams is not known for excessive spending. In fact, it has proven that it is prepared to tighten its belt – a strategy which is common in most businesses but almost unheard of in F1 where teams usually spend all the revenue at their disposal in an attempt to win on track. Williams is the glowing exception. Last year it sold its hybrid power division, which makes a flywheel used in F1’s energy recovery systems. Automotive and aerospace components firm GKN paid $11m for it and this wasn’t the only boost that Williams got last year. It also closed its Qatar Technology Centre for a UK relocation. This gleaming new facility was opened by Britain’s prime minister David Cameron in July last year but it is far from a vanity project. It is already home to work on two key partnerships: one with Nismo, the performance orientated brand of Nissan, and the other with electric racing series Formula E, which uses batteries made by Williams. The other major boost to Williams last year came as a result of departing Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado who left the team after a difficult 2013 season. This was a bad decision for Maldonado as he joined Lotus, which finished in just eighth place last year. It was a different story for Williams as not only did it get rid of a driver who was famed for his spectacular crashes, but it ended up with a boost to its bank balance. This is because Maldonado's chief sponsor, the state-backed oil company PDVSA, funded an estimated $20m early termination fee of his five-year contract. It was reflected in Williams’ 2013 results, which showed a £22.1m increase in its F1 income compared to the previous year. Its overall revenue accelerated 2.7% to £130.4m leaving net profits of £12m. This is some feat given that most F1 teams make a loss in a bid to win on track. As one of only three teams in F1 which has never changed its name Williams has consistency as well as heritage which helps to attract both the top partners and drivers. To turnaround Williams’ fortunes on track its existing young driver Valtteri Bottas was paired last year with the more experienced Felipe Massa who came from Ferrari where he missed out on the championship by just one point in 2008. Despite the loss, the Brazilian remained with Ferrari for a further five years getting on the podium 36 times and winning 11 races. Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen are just some of F1’s most famous names that worked alongside Felipe Massa during at his time at Ferrari. It complements Bottas who burst on to the racing scene in 2008 when he won 12 out of the 14 races he competed in the junior series Formula Renault 2.0 NEC. He later moved up to GP3 where he won four races before coming to the attention of Williams. Another significant appointment came courtesy of Williams’ skilled chief executive Mike O’Driscoll, the former managing director of luxury car manufacturer Jaguar. In July 2013 he hired Pat Symonds, who has worked on four championship-winning F1 cars, as Williams’ chief technical officer. He gave the team the engineering horsepower that it so badly needed. “Everybody knows Pat’s accomplishments and that he is a proven championship winner,” says Williams. “Developing that race car has been the road map for us since Pat joined. He has got a very clearly defined path and there is room for improvement. Mercedes has obviously done such an amazing job but I don’t believe they are unbeatable and it is up to us to take the challenge to them as every other team on the grid will be doing.” The new blood is the driving force behind this. “People are what keep your team going and make you win races,” says Williams. “There has been a real shift in energy and atmosphere having seen the changes management have made have an impact on people’s approach and revitalise people’s efforts within the team. You think actually we can do this, we can get this done, we can win races again. That is a real motivating force. The success itself is a real driver. It has a snowball effect.” This was apparent throughout last season. In 2014 Williams finished ahead of its better-funded rivals Ferrari and McLaren and got closer to Mercedes than any other team, give or take the advances of Red Bull Racing. At the Austrian Grand Prix Bottas and Massa gave Williams its first front row lock-out in qualifying since 2003. The duo improved on this at the season-ender in Abu Dhabi when they delivered the team’s first double podium since 2005. Massa was on the podium three times last year whilst Bottas scored six. “We have got greater ambitions than finishing P3 in the championship. The goal is to produce a car that is capable of challenging for a championship,” says Williams. She says that this will be achieved through “improvements across the board. It has got to be an overall package. But it is not necessarily just to do with the car itself either, it is the whole team from personnel and operations. We have to be operating in a different way than we have been in the past few years where mistakes could be made two years ago when they didn’t matter because we weren’t competing at that level. Now everything counts.” F1 >>> BUsinEss 27 GPWEEK.com // 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: