Williams target Mercedes engine extension beyond 2020
Williams have doused speculation that they will use Renault engines from 2021 onwards as Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams revealed that talks between the team and current suppliers Mercedes are ongoing for a renewed partnership.
Renault was the catalyst to Williams’ most successful eras in F1, the team taking 12 wins in 1996 – through Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve – and 64 with the French engine manufacturer overall. From 2000-2005, they used BMW power before a torrid season with Cosworth in 2006, two with Toyota from 2007-'09 and a return to Renault power from 2012-2013. Williams have been using Mercedes engines since the start of the hybrid era, in 2014.
“There’s a lot of speculation about Williams at the moment,” admitted Claire Williams as she responded to recently stoked rumours of a Renault partnership.
“We’re talking to Mercedes as you probably expect. Those conversations are going well, and we hope to be able to conclude a new partnership with them going into 2021. They’ve been a fantastic partner of ours, they’ve been very supportive, everyone knows that Toto [Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal] started his Formula 1 career at Williams. As such, we have a great relationship with him, and I would like that relationship to continue.
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“I don’t know why people speculate around future or potential engine partners of ours, except to say maybe it’s a slow news week,” she continued. “But there is. I know now what you’re going to write if I say this, but we’ve always had a great history with Renault, but our future is with Mercedes.”
While there's no return to Renault in the works, however, there’s still a possibility of Williams sourcing more parts from other suppliers instead of producing them in-house.
“We went through a process of evaluation last year,” explained Williams. “We’re doing the same this year off the back of what happened to us at testing, to work out what we should make versus buy. It’s an important piece of work that we concluded. We will now make our decisions around what we will be doing ourselves versus outsourcing, whether that be with Mercedes or alternative suppliers.
“But it’s all just dependent on the capacity that we have at Williams and what we do best, versus what other people may do better. But obviously 2021 is going to bring a shift with what and how teams can collaborate anyway. Obviously we want to dial down those collaborations at Williams – we’re an independent constructor.
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“I think everybody knows my position on collaborations, and I believe that teams should make and design and manufacture their race cars themselves, certainly design the race cars themselves, and I’d like to see those technical regulations coming out with a greater bias that supports independent constructors like how our business model is.”
Without any points, sitting last place in the championship going into the German Grand Prix, Williams are currently enduring their worst season yet. Winless with Mercedes power so far, who knows what lies in wait for the team post-2020?