The name Williams in Motor Racing terms stirs a lot of emotions. Depending on your age your mind may hark back to the Red 5 of Mansell and his many near misses, Ayrton Senna's fateful 1994 adventure, Damon Hill's loss at the hands of Schumacher or even his win against Villeneuve a couple of years later. It may be the BMW years with Montoya and the other Schumacher fighting for wins and championships? Or right back to the days of Jones or Rosberg (snr). Fact is, the Williams team racing heritage is filled with chapters of drama, intrigue and incredible results.
Crisis seems like an incredible choice of words, especially from a writer who doesn't like to seem sensationalist. This isn't clickbait, In fact I couldn't think of another word that truly describes the situation this team finds itself in.
Lets look at where they stand currently. In FP1 & FP2 at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix both cars were slowest by a long way. which correlates with the pace seen in the week & a half in Barcelona's testing standings.
This writer has been told by multiple sources that the team needed help from other teams just to ensure they had 2 physically complete cars ready for Friday's running such are the dire delays coming from the factory. This of course after turning up mid-way through the first pre-season test with an incomplete and illegal car.
The team also suffers from a massive lack of funding. A title sponsor with no money or product to speak of (although Williams are not exclusive in that regard), the loss of the Strolls money, Martini sponsorship & Bottas compensation and of course finishing last means you get the least money from the FOM causing massive headaches for the budget of the team.
You also have to note the departure of Paddy Lowe for 'personal reasons'. The loss of Rob Smedley and a host of members of staff over the last 12 months. All-in-all with all of these combined you can see why the word crisis fits.
A lot of these issues point to poor management. The buck stops with Claire Williams and all of these issues have appeared on her watch. In the time she has been the teams leader it is clear to see William's decline. From regularly troubling the podium in '14 due to having the grid leading engine to barely troubling the points in 2018. Paddy Lowe is on record as stating that having the Mercedes engine masked the true performance of the car, and allowed the poorer chassis to score higher than it should
Claire Williams has got in front of her a team with 'top team' facilities & staff, but a lower midfield budget. The team have been passed on track by those with the sense to source out the building of bits of their car, essentially falling in line with a manufacturer and becoming a B team. Williams is a stubborn team in that it sees itself a constructor in the truest sense of the word, and instead of looking inside at how it can best use the funds it has, it has been spending more time pointing the figure at those smaller outfits driving past moaning about how unfair they are.
Lets be honest, jumping in line with Mercedes would probably help them back to respectability, at least as a holding pattern until the new rules and budget cap in 2021 offer them a lifeline.
In 2013 Claire Williams became 'Deputy Team Principal' of the Williams F1 Team, in truth she is the de-facto team principal as her father the legendary Sir Frank Williams holds the title of Team Principal. It always seemed to make sense that Williams would promote one of his own however most people believed it was Claire's brother Jonathan that would take the reigns after successfully working through the lower tiers of motorsport. Jonathan now doesn't speak to Claire, the decision created a hugerift in the family. Maybe Jonathan Williams and Jacques Villeneuve are right, just maybe, that was the wrong decision.