F1 2016 Team Preview: Williams Martini Racing

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After proving that the upturn in fortunes in 2014 wasn’t a one-off, Williams enters 2016 hoping to build on the success of last year and cement its place as one of Formula 1’s front-running teams.

Quite how much more can be achieved given the strength and budgets of the manufacturers remains to be seen. That said, if any team is going to break the Mercedes-Ferrari stranglehold at the front of the pack, one would expect it to be Williams.

TEAM: Williams Martini Racing
ENGINE: Mercedes
CAR: Williams FW38

2015 STATS

Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums: 4
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 257
Laps Led: 20
Drivers’ Championship Positions: 5th (Valtteri Bottas); 6th (Felipe Massa)
Constructors’ Championship Position: 3rd

2016 LINE-UP

77. Valtteri Bottas (FIN)
19. Felipe Massa (BRA)


For ‘Williams 2015’, see ‘Williams 2014’. Last year was very much a case of the same again. After ending a barren few years of form and finishing third in the constructors’ championship in 2014, Williams did it again in 2015 with relative ease. Red Bull’s struggles meant it had little competition from behind, while Ferrari grew in strength through the season, putting P2 out of reach. Both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were solid if unspectacular, with the only opportunity to take the fight to Mercedes being squandered when the team played it safe with strategy at Silverstone.


It is difficult to see Williams moving any further forward this year. Pre-season testing pointed to big gains by both Mercedes and Ferrari, appearing to leave the rest of the pack a step behind. Williams will be wary of the renewed fight from Red Bull this year, with the Renault power unit’s issues reportedly being remedied to some end. If anything, a ‘boring’ third-place finish for the third year in a row might be the best thing for Williams, allowing it to focus on prepping for the regulation change in 2017 and giving Valtteri Bottas to car to become a grand prix winner – if it can hold on to the Finn, that is.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
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Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.