Taking the road to the top

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Williams’ Formula 1 season

Report mark: 7.1

It had been a long and miserable afternoon in the Ardennes, but one driver couldn’t believe his luck when, after four hours of waiting for better weather, it was decided to let things go at Spa-Francorchamps. There had only been a handful of laps behind the safety car, which meant that George Russell, who had delivered a huge stunt the day before by qualifying his Williams to second place, was allowed to take the podium along with Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. With less than 75 percent of the race distance covered, only half points were awarded, but it was still a monster score for Williams, who had carried the red lantern in Formula 1 for three consecutive years.

“The whole team deserves this,” said Russell, known as Mister Saturday for his outstanding qualifying performances, before taking the trophy for second place on the podium. “We’ve worked hard over the past few years, but the results didn’t show that. But yesterday we hit the nail on the head and that’s why we’re on the podium now. I had absolutely not expected this before the season.” Teammate Nicholas Latifi also contributed with a ninth place. Williams thus had ten points left in the first race after the summer break. That while the British racing stable had already scored exactly that number in the last showdown before the summer recess. Latifi and Russell had finished seventh and eighth in a tumultuous Hungarian Grand Prix, the race in which Hamilton was the only one on the grid after a code red.

The points collected by Williams in Hungary and Belgium ensured Haas was last in the constructors’ standings, but also the lackluster Alfa Romeo was seen for eighth place in the championship. The latter race stable remained stuck at thirteen points throughout the season. After his podium in Belgium, Russell also finished ninth in Italy and tenth in Russia, bringing Williams’ score to 23 points. The Briton, who will drive next year alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, could not have given the formation from Grove a better parting gift.

on track

Perhaps even more important than where Williams finished in the standings is the observation that the team is making good progress, which lost its namesake on November 28 with the death of Frank Williams. In mid-2020 the stable was taken over by the American investment company Dorilton Capital and since then the train, which had already been derailed a few years ago, has been put back on the rails wagon by wagon under the leadership of former Volkswagen Motorsport boss Jost Capito. Of course Williams has benefited from the fact that Haas and Alfa Romeo shifted their focus to 2022 very early, but now there seems to be a nice foundation to build on in the coming years.

On the driver side, Alexander Albon will have to lead the way next year, while Latifi starts his third season with Williams. The British Thai gets another chance after Red Bull pushed him aside for Sergio Perez for 2021. After a season in the DTM and many hours in the Red Bull simulator in Milton Keynes, Albon will be burned to show that he belongs on the Formula 1 grid. In any case, the introduction of a completely new car in 2022 offers Albon the opportunity to completely customize the Williams car. If he succeeds, Williams could have a lot of fun with the former teammate of Max Verstappen.

Editorial figures

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