The 80′s and 90′s were good times for Williams, racking up no fewer than 9 Constructors Championships between 1980 and 1997, the 2011 season was a far cry from their previous success.
On the back of such an embarassing and unsuccessful year, major changes have been made within the team. Patrick Head has stepped down from the Head of the Engineering after over three decades of working for the team. They’ve switched engine suppliers from Cosworth to Renault and they’ve taken on a new Head of Engineering, Head of Aerodynamics and a new Technical Director.
What of the driver line-up though? At this moment in time, all that is for certain is that Pastor Maldonado will be driving for the team, probably due to the huge amount of funding he brings in, which Williams desperately need. With only two race seats currently undecided, the question on everybody’s lips is; who will be Pastors team mate?
Well, Rubens Barrichello hasn’t been officially sacked yet, so he is still in the running and to me it makes sense. In a team where so much is changing, stability is what they need. Rubens has even raised this point himself saying, “With all the changes for next year on the engine side and engineers, it would be clever from the team to keep the drivers and keep on going.” I agree with him entirely, Rubens brings with him 18 years of Formula 1 experience, he can teach the team plenty and more importantly he can teach Maldonado a great deal.
During the 2011 season Rubens was quoted saying negative things about the team or things that weren’t particularly supportive of them, on more than one occasion. While the press and public expect a driver to be truthful and realistic, some of things he said and the way he said them would probably be enough to rile a team who were already struggling without their own driver reminding them. Has Rubens dug his own grave with his negative comments though? Or maybe they were just a sign of an already soured relationship.
So if they don’t choose Rubens, who else is available? There are plenty of 2011 drivers who are now out of a race seat; Adrian Sutil, Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov. We can’t forget about all the rookies trying to break into the sport. Then what about the possible return of Robert Kubica, Renault seem to have given up on him so maybe he’s a free agent, oh and what about Nick Heidfeld?
From a logical perspective Williams should be looking for an experienced driver, it’s hard to imagine that they’d want a driver with little experience to try and carry the team. The only drivers from that list that to me would fit the bill are Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica and I don’t think Robert will be driving at the beginning of this season. Nick Heidfeld unimpressed at Renault, however he’s a reliable driver with a lot of experience and knowledge to impart.
Maybe they’ll risk it and take on a rookie or someone relatively new to the sport like Vitaly Petrov. Hopefully though, they will take a logical approach and keep on Rubens Barrichello. After watching the feature with him before the Brazilian Grand Prix, it’s clear that he still has so much passion for the sport and isn’t ready to give up and I don’t think Formula 1 is ready to lose him.
What do you think: Who should Williams take on to partner Pastor Maldonado? Should Williams have even kept Pastor Maldonado on? Have your say below.