Williams owners urged to spend big after 'unheard of' gains in 2020

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Williams' new owners are being urged to spend big to build on the significant gains the team made in 2020.

This year was a hugely significant one for the Grove-based outfit as, after over 40 years, the family handed over control to Dorliton Capital following a lengthy search for investment as financial issues worsened.

On the track, the championship picture remained bleak as Williams finished bottom of the Constructors' Championship for the third straight year, failing to score a single point for the first time in their history.

However, that didn't tell the full picture as George Russell and Nicholas Latifi made Q2 a combined nine times as Williams found themselves in a year-long battle with Alfa Romeo and Haas.

“It’s quite remarkable really, the jump we’ve managed to do this year, on some tracks,” said Latifi, who was the only full-time rookie on the grid.

“In Bahrain, the standard track, George went quicker than last year’s time by 2.5s, that’s unseen or unheard of in F1, year-on-year development. If we could even get a little bit more, it would be quite nice and push us a little closer to the midfield battle.”

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As for 2021, Latifi does believe Williams will continue to make gains, even as most of the attention will be on the following year.

“I’m confident that we’re going to keep closing the gap, that’s for sure,” he said.

“We know next year the cars are a carryover, so we maybe won’t be able to do as much development as we’d like to if it was just a normal year, especially if it was going into 2022 regulations.

“There’s still a big emphasis on developing the car but fundamentally, the car is the car and still has its inherent weaknesses, through the various and certain parts that are homologated, which you are and aren’t allowed to change, it becomes a bit more difficult to find as much performance as we would want to or like to.

“But there’s definitely still development items, as recent as the previous two races [in Bahrain], there was new parts coming to test, trying to improve the car for next year. We will close the gap, I’m confident of that.”

Looking longer-term, however, McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes Dorilton will have to put their money where their mouth is if Williams is to become a competitive outfit again.

“They are a great racing team,” commented the American. “They will need to invest, the new investors, a lot of money. They are behind in revenue from finishing 10th in the Championship and don’t appear to have much sponsorship.

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“They have the people, the know-how, the skill. They just need the resources, which they have lacked.

“So it will take some time, but I think they made a big step this year. While they didn’t score a point, they were certainly in a position to a couple of times.

“There’s no reason why they can’t, but they will need to continue to invest in the team because it looks to me that they don’t have the same level of revenue that we had.

“As we know in Formula 1, it takes money to go fast, so they just need to continue to get their chequebook out.”

For a while, it has been suggested Williams should take the route of Haas or Racing Point by forming close technical ties to a manufacturer.

However, Simon Roberts, who was recently confirmed as the new full-time team boss after stepping into the role in August, wants to stay true to the team's roots.

"We are independent, we’re going to remain independent but there is scope for collaboration," he said via GPFans.

"We can see advantages [of a partnership], but we don’t want to become a B-team, so we want to retain our independence but we want to be more competitive.

"For us, looking forward, we’re open to extending a relationship but the specification of that would depend on what we think we’re strong at, internally, and where we think we need help and support," Roberts added.

"In simple terms, if we’re good at something and we can do it - quicker to the market, quicker to the track – we should focus on that.

"If there’s something we can’t do very well, then we should be prepared to buy that from whoever’s got it available and under the cost-cap."