Tag Archives: Williams

Formula One: Turning the Red Bull Racing Aston Martin story on its head

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Amongst the #ToroHondaRenaultMcLarenRosso hype during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, news of around Aston Martin increasing its involvement in Formula One with Red Bull Racing has started to solidify. Andy Palmer, Aston Martin CEO, when quizzed on the grid by Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle confirmed the business is keeping a watching brief on 2021 engine regulations, which should they fall favourably towards independent manufacturers, could lead to increased involvement of the brand. Should this be the case Palmer confirmed Aston Martin may seek to preemptt the regulation change by enhancing their visibility with Red Bull Racing possibly from as early as 2018.

This news comes at a time in which the media are speculating Red Bull’s long-term interest in Formula One may be dwindling, which has lead some observers to suggest a change of ownership of Red Bull Racing under the guise of Aston Martin. Whilst this is entirely possible, there are, in my opinion, a few to many creative leaps being taken for this outcome to be viable.

Firstly, lets address Red Bull or more specifically Dietrich Mateschitz’s diminished interest in Formula One. Red Bull entered F1 to sell a product, this objective is the same today as it was 30 years ago. In 2016 the Red Bull achieved more than $1,000M in media coverage from through Formula One. This far exceeds any investment the brand makes into the sport. With budget caps on the horizon, the business rationale for a marketing focused business to be involved with F1 will only increase. Should a $150M budget cap be achieved, Red Bull Racing can be assured of achieving this investment through existing sponsors, and prize funds. Red Bull stand to benefit from $1000M in free advertising.

2017 saw Aston Martin return to profit for the first time in over a decade. The business has stated ambitions around going public in the coming 5 years and are focused on expanding their automotive range to increase revenues. At this time, and in the mid term they are not a business capable of sustaining any form of Formula One engine development plan. Aston Martin Racing is a completely separate business to the Aston Martin which sponsors Red Bull Racing.

Returning to Dietrich Mateschitz. A serial entrepreneurr and self made billionaire. In recent years, he has seen the likes of McLaren diversify into the production of cars, and Williams create successful businesses in the application of their technology within a commercial environment. He is aware that the technical capability of the Red Bull Racing group is under utilised, something which will only increase under a F1 budget cap.  Projects such as Newey’s America’s Cup Project and the Aston Martin Valkyrie Hypercar project show an evaluation of ways in which the team can direct resources to other projects. Could this lead to an alternative direction for Red Bull Racing?

Rather than Aston Martin becoming title sponsor of Red Bull Racing, with a view to producing a power unit under the 2021 regulations. Could Red Bull be considering buying Aston Martin, supporting them in the acceleration of their automotive expansion plans, facilitating F1 power unit development, through their partnership with AVL, and using the proven brand power of Formula One allow Dietrich Mateschitz to evolve Aston Martin into a genuine competitor to the entire Ferrari Group.

Dietrich Mateschitz acquiring Aston Martin and reshaping his position in Formula One towards a Red Bull owned Aston Martin F1 Team, from a business perspective appears entirely more feasible than a company reporting $16M profit, having committed $550M to new road cars, suddenly investing $20M per annum in title sponsorship then paying to develop  an F1 engine.

All that being said, Red Bull, through offering half stories and snippets of information continue to dominate F1 news despite being unable to challenge for a world championship. The business continues to offer a master class in media manipulation. As in 2014, when F1 news was dominated by stories of Red Bull looking set to quit Formula One, Red Bull have an ability to create their own news to ensure they dominate the F1 headlines between the races.

Finally, despite quotes to the contrary, Red Bull Racing are very well aware that the best chance they have of securing a return to a championship challenging position is with a fully funded manufacturer. Talk of Aston Martin, in my opinion, is nothing more than a negotiating tactic around the terms under which the Volkswagen Group will enter Formula One.

Credit to Sean Bull for the fantastic livery creation supporting this article. 

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Formula One: Williams haven’t won a championship since Lance Stroll was born!

Speaking to Mobil One’s The Grid, Williams Martini Racing’s new signing Lance Stroll explores the history of the team he will be taking to the grid with for the first time in Melbourne in March this season.

Fellow Canadian Jacques Villeneuve was the last driver to claim the F1 driver championship with Williams in 1997, a year before Lance Stroll was born.  Whilst Lance is realistic about his chances of emulating Villeneuve  in his first season of F1, this is the ultimate goal.

Putting into words how it feels to be on the cusp of his first season in Formula One is no simple task, Mobil One’s The Grid will be catching up with Stroll later in the season to see how he is getting on.

With Williams releasing images of the FW40 this morning on social media, the reality and enormity of the season ahead will be starting to set in!

 

Formula One: Bem-vindo a casa Felipe!

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In what may be one of the shortest retirements in recent Formula One history, Williams Martini Racing have confirmed the Felipe Massa will return to the Grove based team for the 2017 season.

Following earlier confirmation that Pascal Wehrlien will join the Sauber F1 Team for 2017, Valterri Bottas’ path to join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes AMG Petronas is now clear freeing up the seat alongside Lance Stroll at Williams for Felipe Massa in 2017.

Speaking about the announcement Felipe Massa said; “Firstly, I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams. I always intended to race somewhere in 2017, but Williams is a team close to my heart and I have respect for everything it is trying to achieve. Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes.

“In turn, when I was offered the chance to help Williams with their 2017 Formula One campaign, it felt like the right thing to do. I certainly have not lost any of my enthusiasm for racing and I’m extremely motivated to be coming back to drive the FW40. The support from my fans over the last few weeks has been a huge boost and I’m grateful for that. I also look forward to working with Lance; I’ve known him for many years and seen his talent develop during that time, so I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, said; “I’m delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign. With Valtteri having a unique opportunity to join the current Constructors’ Champions, we have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to give Valtteri this fantastic opportunity.

“Valtteri has been part of the Williams family since 2010 and in that time has proved a huge talent, securing nine podium finishes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the whole team, and wish him a successful season as he joins Mercedes.

“Felipe has always been a much-loved member of the Williams family, and having the opportunity to work with him again is something we all look forward to. He was always going to race somewhere in 2017, as he has not lost that competitive spirit, and it was important that we had a strong replacement in order for us to let Valtteri go. Felipe re-joining us provides stability, experience and talent to help lead us forward. He is a great asset for us.”

With the 2017 F1 regulations changes set to be the most significant in decades, Williams have been keen to ensure an experienced driver lines up alongside F1 Rookie Lance Stroll.

It is understood Felipe walked away from opportunities within Formula E in order to return to Formula One. Felipe has returned to the team with a single season agreement.

Formula One: No Tim Holmes but still very special

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Ahead of Felipe Massa’s final home Grand Prix this weekend, Williams Racing title sponsor Martini has dedicated it’s iconic logo to the driver replacing the MARTINI with MASSA.

Whilst the livery is not the bold helmet inspired design imagined by motorsport designed Tim Holmes, the gesture demonstrates the close relationship Massa, Williams and Martini have developed since the Brazilian joined the team in 2014

 

The surprise livery change, the first of its kind for a Formula One partner, was revealed to the Brazilian-born driver today at the Autódrome José Carlos Pace track in Sao Paulo. In addition to the famous MARTINI ball and bar logo being replaced with MASSA, the rear wing has also been adorned with the phrase ‘Obrigado’ – which means ‘thank you’ in Portuguese.

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“I’ve always said that I drive the best looking car on the grid, but this takes it to a whole other level,” joked Felipe Massa.  He continued, “I’ve never known a sponsor to do this for a driver before. It’s an honour and I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit emotional about it.  But it goes to show that because of MARTINI’s heritage in racing, they are more than just a sponsor. They are a true partner and fan of this beautiful sport. I’ve been lucky to have them as part of my team the last three years.”

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Shane Hoyne, CMO, Bacardi Europe said, “Felipe isn’t just a driver, he’s a friend.  And not just to MARTINI but to his teammates and other drivers out there on the grid.  We thought it only right that we mark the occasion and give his name pride of place on the car. Obrigado on the rear wing is not just our way of saying thank you to him, but for Felipe to say thank you to all his fans in Sao Paulo.”

Felipe has spoken openly of a dream to thank his home fans with one final podium this weekend. With mixed conditions forecast and tensions simmering amongst the top teams all eyes will be on the Brazilian to realise his dream.

Click here to check out more helmet inspired F1 livery designs from Tim Holmes

Formula One: Getting to know Lance Stroll

Earlier this month Williams Martini Racing confirmed Lance Stroll will line up alongside Valtteri Bottas for the 2017 season. Since confirming Lance’s position, the team has come under fire suggesting the move was motivated more by the wealth of the Stroll family than Lance’s prowess behind the wheel.

This film from Mobil One’s the grid should go some way to counter this suggestion, as they catch up with Lance as he seals an historic triple victory at the season closing 2016 European F3 championship in Hockenheim.

 

Formula One: Deconstructing Stroll

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Following the announcement of Felipe Massa’s intention to retire from Formula One at the end of this season, the consensus of opinion is that Lance Stroll will be his most likely successor. Lance Stroll left the Ferrari Driver Academy and joined Williams at the end of 2015 in a development driver capacity. He is currently leading the European F3 Championship with Prema Powerteam.

Lance will turn 18 at the end of October and through his 2016 F3 campaign has achieved sufficient success to qualify for an FIA Super License and allowing him to participate in Formula One activities on track. Lance is the son of multi billionaire Lawrence Stroll. Lawrence, a keen motorsport enthusiast himself, has supported Lance through his career in junior categories. This support should not in anyway suggest Lance should be labelled as a ‘pay driver’ his domination in the European F3 championship clearly demonstrates he is a talented driver.

Williams have a reputation for signing up and coming drivers, signing Lance Stroll would be in keeping with this reputation. At this point all signs point to his announcement as a driver in 2017 seem entirely reasonable. In fact, both Lance and team representatives have suggested the levelling effect of regulation changes in 2017 would make it a logical time to make the change.

There is however another rumour about Lance Stroll which doesn’t make quite so much sense. In recent months highly reputable journalists in the Formula One paddock have suggested that Lance Stroll and the Williams team are completing extensive familiarisation tests for the Canadian using 2014 machinery at multiple circuits on the F1 calendar. These journalists suggest the programme is being bankrolled by Lawrence Stroll to the tune of up to $20M. At this time neither team or driver have officially commented on the rumours.

Rather than make a claim one way or the other, it seems of merit to delve into the challenges of  how such a test programme could be achieved within current FIA regulations and Williams partnerships:

  • Power Units. Whilst it is within regulations for a team to complete tests with power units from seasons two years prior to the current season which would allow Williams to complete tests using current hybrid power unit technology, Williams do not own any Power Units. The partnership agreement with Mercedes is a supply agreement only which means Mercedes deliver Power Units to the team on a race weekend. The team do not retain anything. In order for tests to be taking place an additional agreement would be required with Mercedes. Mercedes would then have to agree to supply or manufacturer 2014 specification Power Units. This is not impossible but does add a level of complexity.
  • Tyres. FIA approved tests with 2014 machinery require tyre supply from Pirelli. Pirelli are only permitted to supply demonstration tyres for such tests. These tyres do not perform in the same way as a race tyre. This would devalue the purpose of familiarisation tests. Of course it is possible the team have found a dispensation within these rules, but again, Pirelli would be required to dedicate resource to this programme at the same time as developing 2017 tyres. It should be noted Williams declined to participate in the 2017 tyre development programme. Again this does not make the Lance Stroll test programme infeasible rather illustrates a supply challenge.
  • Circuits. Contrary to the belief of some in the F1 paddock, Racing circuits do not lie dormant for the 362 days a year that F1 is not using a venue. Booking circuit time is not a simple task. Shutting a circuit down for private testing would not go unnoticed.
  • Existing Commitments. Lance Stroll is currently leading the European F3 championship. The championship requires more commitment than an arrive and drive mentality. He will be fully focused on the task in hand.
  • Existing Infrastructure. Williams, as with many leading teams on the F1 grid, have invested heavily into race simulators, completing tests way from the simulator in old machinery may suggest a lack of confidence in their own technology.
  • Regulations. 2017 will see a radical overhaul in Formula One technical regulations. Ambitious projections suggest a lap time improvement of up to 5 seconds per lap. If this is accurate, the value of testing machinery by that time 3 years old and possibly up to 7 seconds per lap slower becomes highly questionable.

Without official confirmation from driver or team it is not possible draw a conclusion over these rumoured tests, but given the challenges surrounding their feasibility on the face of it they appear unlikely. A far more logical and cost effective approach would be to wait until Lance turns 18 and place him in Felipe Massa’s car in the Free Practice One sessions in the remaining races of the 2016 calendar.

Another challenge the Williams F1 team may face in signing Lance Stroll for 2017 could be with their principle partner Bacardi (with the Martini brand) Williams drivers pay a key role in the activation of the Martini Sponsorship, a driver not of legal in the US could prove to be a challenge for the business and this approach.

Formula One: Thales join Williams

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Williams have announced is a new technical partnership with Thales, a leader in critical information systems, cyber security and data protection.

As part of the agreement Thales will deliver state-of-the-art cyber security solutions for real-time global telemetry transmission to both WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING and Williams Advanced Engineering, the engineering services and technology division of Williams.

Thales designs, develops and operates resilient and high-performance critical information systems supported by its 2,000 cyber security experts and world class data protection and digital trust management solutions, protecting mission critical data anywhere data resides. Cyber security, especially data protection, is of the utmost importance in the competitive world of Formula One.

Speaking about the new partnership Marc Darmon, Executive Vice-President, Secure Communication and Information Systems for Thales said; “Thales is a world class cyber security expert and a globally recognised systems integrator, delivering safety and security critical systems in challenging environments such as Aerospace, Space, Defence, Finance, IT and Technology and Ground Transportation. This agreement builds on the already strong existing relationship between our two companies and our combined skills and expertise. It clearly illustrates Thales’s commitment to accompany its clients in their digital transformation where cyber security is a vital requirement.”

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal and Commercial Director of Williams, added; “Williams has undergone a significant digital transformation over the past two years. We are revolutionising our IT infrastructure to make sure that we are well placed to continue innovating. With the help of Thales, we will be introducing cyber security systems that keep our data secure from wherever we are in the world.”

As a technical partnership Thales branding will not feature in the team environment or on the car livery.

For more information on Thales click here or follow Thales on Twitter here

Formula One: Williams break the 2 second pit stop barrier

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Williams Martini Racing set a new record for the fastest recorded pit stop at the Grand Prix of Europe. The team finally broke the magical 2 second barrier with Felipe Massa’s stop. Williams are the first team to officially complete a pitstop in which all 4 tyres are changed in under 2 seconds in Formula One.

After a series of calamitous pitstop performances throughout the teams 2015 campaign, for 2016 the team employed a process manager to analyse possible areas of improvement and implement change. One change has been to introduce a 21st person to the process. The person is responsible for monitoring the pitlane throughout the stop and signal (through a hand-held remote) when it is safe to release the car. This additional person reduces the number of tasks to be completed by the front jack man, and as a consequence has allowed for increased focus and improved efficiency. By allocating only single tasks to individuals in a pitstop process focus can be absolute. No doubt rival teams will be looking to emulate the Williams pit stop process in races to come.

For the 2016 Season DHL are awarding a Fastest Pitstop award after each Grand Prix. Williams have won this accolade at every race this season.

Formula One: Claire Williams Awarded an OBE

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Williams have announced that its Deputy Team Principal and Commercial Director, Claire Williams, has been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s 2016 Birthday Honours List announced today. Claire has been awarded the honour in recognition of her services to Formula One.

In her role as Deputy Team Principal, Claire has been instrumental in the successful restructuring of the Williams Group over the past three years. The team has returned towards the front of the grid in Formula One, moving from ninth in the Constructors’ Championship in 2013 to third place in 2014 and 2015, and has successfully diversified through the continued growth of Williams Advanced Engineering. Since stepping into her Deputy Team Principal role, Claire has used her position as a female in a traditionally male dominated industry to encourage more women to consider careers in engineering and technology. In addition to this, she has recently been appointed Vice President of the Spinal Injuries Association, a charity extremely close to her heart.

Speaking about the honour, Claire said; “Today is a very proud day for me, but this is also a bit of a surprise. To be recognised in this way is a tremendous honour but one everyone at Williams can take credit for. I’m extremely lucky that I get to do a job that I love. To be able to play a role in a family legacy is an enormous privilege and one I don’t take for granted. Formula One, and Williams, are great success stories for the UK and I will continue to use my role to help showcase what a great sport Formula One is, what a brilliant platform for this country’s expertise in high class engineering it is, as well as a place that welcomes women across all of its disciplines.”