Exclusive interview with Sir Frank Williams 11 Jul 2007
In over thirty years of service, Sir Frank Williams has experienced both the ups and the downs of Formula One racing. After building up his team from scratch, Williams enjoyed phenomenal success and his squad won multiple constructors championships.
However, after a largely unsuccessful partnership with BMW and an equally frustrating 2006 season as a solo effort, the British team - and its owner - have been brought back to earth with a bump. But with things looking up again, its clear that nothing but a return to the very top will satisfy this born racer
Q: In 2005 Williams - then with partner BMW - ended the season fifth in the constructors championship, in 2006 the team dropped back to eighth and this season has worked its way up back up to fifth. The four teams ahead are all manufacturers teams. Does Williams have the resources to compete effectively?
Frank Williams: One thing is money. Resources need some money. But resources also include good brain power and inventiveness. When you have those kinds of resources, you lack almost nothing. Sure, you always could use more money but key is to have clever, hard working people. Certainly, we will be at the very top again - it is our target but it will not happen overnight. It will take time. The four teams ahead of us have more money but I doubt that they have more inventiveness. When Toyota visited us, they were surprised by how much we had. We are very well equipped.
Q: How satisfied are you with how the car and your drivers have performed this season?
FW: Well, we come from position eight last year and the target is at the very least to keep position five, while simultaneously trying to reach out for fourth position in this years constructors championship. But the gap to Renault is quite big and unfortunately it is not closing. Nico (Rosberg) is doing a remarkably good job and Alex (Wurz) is a super test driver and has a lot of experience.
Q: In Rosbergs case, some say its the cars fault he is stuck in the midfield. When will he get the machinery his talent deserves?
FW: This remark is subjective. It is true that the car needs to be more developed and needs more performance. To keep up with Renault is very hard. It takes quite some time to turn things around technically in Formula One. But if you compare where we were last year and where we are now, we can say that we are on the right track.
Q: Your contracts with both drivers expire at the end of the season - should we expect a change in line-up or will you stick with what you have?
FW: No comment at all.
Q: There have been rumours that Renault tester Nelson Piquet Jr may drive the second FW29 from the European Grand Prix onwards. Is that true?
FW: We never comment on rumours. It is unfounded and it makes no sense to talk about it.
Q: With customer cars theoretically becoming a reality in 2008 - is there a future for private teams?
FW: Well actually in the Concorde agreement - which everybody has signed - the basis of it for next year is last years content and there is no change.
Q: How do you believe the arrival of customer cars will affect the sport?
FW: There will be two more teams and four more cars out on the track. But it will not affect the basic regulations or the spirit of the event.
Q: So you dont think that some manufacturer teams will use junior teams to influence the outcome of races?
FW: Well, this would be a very expensive way to manipulate races.
Q: And wouldnt it adversely affect the constructors championship
FW: I dont think that the real constructors would allow that to happen. They have all been in Formula One for quite some time and have invested enormous sums of money to become constructors. The learning curve is very painful. Very painful! So there is no way to allow a team with effectively no history in Formula One to spend the minimum amount of money and make other teams lose positions. This is not acceptable.
Q: Williams has a whole range of blue chip sponsors - how difficult is it to lure such companies to a private team?
FW: There you can see how good our marketing department is. We have to work very hard because we need the funding from sponsors in contrast to the manufacturers teams. We must overwhelm them with attention - and we have to deliver.