Sunday, August 27, 2017

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Williams Martini Racing

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images

Team Grade: C

Driver Grades
Felipe Massa: B-
Lance Stroll: C+

Williams Martini Racing’s 2017 plans were thrown for a loop in only the first month of the year. Unable to resist the opportunity to take over the hotly desirable seat vacated by the retired Nico Rosberg at Mercedes AMG, Valtteri Bottas sought and was granted a release from the team. Brazilian Formula 1 veteran Felipe Massa, who originally intended to hang up his helmet after the 2016 season, was recalled to drive a Williams-Mercedes alongside 18-year-old Canadian rookie Lance Stroll.

The 40th anniversary season for the Williams Formula 1 team, 2017 has been short in celebration on the track. Felipe Massa started the season off reasonably with sixth place finishes at the Australian Grand Prix and Bahrain Grand Prix. While Massa has been a consistent for the organization with point-scoring finishes in 6 of the 11 races currently completed, Williams’ best effort of the 2017 Formula 1 season was obtained by the first year driver. Lance Stroll scored a third place result at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and was running in second place in the late part of the event before former Williams driver Valtteri Bottas. Stroll became the youngest Formula 1 driver to finish on the podium in Formula 1 competition and the first Canadian no named Villeneuve to achieve a three-top result in a grand prix.

While the podium sandwiched by two other point scoring finishes has been a respectable run for Lance Stroll, his rookie has been unstable overall. Stroll’s Formula 1 career started with three consecutive retirements consisting of a brake issue in Australia as well as two collisions in China and Bahrain.

In the first two years of Formula 1's implementation of the current gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain rules, Williams opting for Mercedes-Benz power was almost a winning decision existing as a podium threat for many 2014 and 2015 events. Since 2016, the team’s performance appears to have slipped. While the FW40 race car has rarely appeared in the top half of the point scoring spots, the Williams machines have been fairly reliable with several retirements being due to collisions rather than mechanical issues.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

The current Williams race car has shown much of its strength on slower tracks in 2017 leaving the Singapore Grand Prix as a potential opportunity looking forward through the final nine events.

While Felipe Massa has put in a steady effort with Williams with the exception of his withdraw from the Hungarian Grand Prix due to health reasons, Lance Stroll’s performance has areas requiring growth. Stroll’s qualifying results in the first 11 events have been most atrocious. Cracking Q3 on only two occasions, Stroll’s Williams-Mercedes has most often been seen mired back in last three rows of the grid. Better starting spots would inevitably help the Canadian find point-scoring consistency through the remaining portion of 2017.