News and views on motorsports

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Williams Cosworth; Rubens to BAR

All over the news yesterday was the official announcement that Williams will be Cosworth powered next year. Pitpass article here, article here and article here. An excellent commentary from the Formula 1 blog is here.

I totally agree that this British partnership will surprise a lot of people for a number of reasons. First, Cosworth are experts in producing V8 engines. In the 70s Formula 1 was accused of being a glorified Formula Ford because everyone except Ferrari were using the famous Cosworth DFVs. Their experience has continued to this day in Indycars and Champcars. Whilst people like Ferrari and Honda complain of vibrational problems, I'm certain Cosworth have none of those issues.

Second, the Cosworth V8 has been in development since last year. This is a huge jump on everyone else on the field. Cosworth have been beating 20,000 RPM on the dyno since early this year. The only problem perhaps is that whilst Honda, Ferrari and Toyota have stuck their V8s behind race cars, Cosworth haven't been able to do the same. Nevertheless, their powerplant is in some advance state of development.

Third, like McLaren over the last couple of years, Williams have been bringing in new facilities on line. Most notably their new windtunnel. Now they have both up and running and I can imagine next year's FW28 to be a totally different and far quicker animal than this year's charge. Clearly, McLaren are now benefitting from their new headquarters and I'll bet next year it will be Williams' turn.

Fourth, I believe Cosworth and Williams will work very well together. They're both British firms for a start. Furthermore, they're located very close together. This is important for I believe it was a clash of cultures that saw the demise of the BMW Williams partnership. Cosworth and Williams are different. Both are specialist manufacturers who cut their teeth in racing. They have a very purist side to them and this should result in a good working relationship.

BMW on the other hand are very much a corporation. Yes, you might say that Ron Dennis and McLaren work very well with Mercedes. But you see, that Mercedes motor is in truth an Ilmor designed and built unit. Ilmor formerly led by Paul Morgan and Mario Illien (both ex Cosworth engineers) are based in England. So the working relationship is inevitably better. Besides, Ron Dennis is a master at the corporate game. He's more corporate cultured than Mercedes. Of course, the Germans are going to like him. Frank Williams and Patrick Head are pure racers and bow not to corporations. As Mario Thiessen told the Guardian, "We made several approaches to achieve that but apparently the corporate culture and the way to run the business is different between Williams and BMW." At the end of it all, you can sense the bitterness thats going on between the two parties right now. Well, perhaps the split will be better for both and I'm sure these former allies will be running hard against one another on track soon enough.

Update: For more on BMW and Williams, read this excellent article on Pitpass.

Some publications are saying that this is a transition year for Williams. The story goes that Williams will be using Lexus badged Toyota engines in 2007. There's no official confirmation of that from Williams or Toyota. And who knows? If the Williams Cosworth partnership works well, then it might do well for Williams to stay with them. But at the end of the day it all comes down to the dollars and euros I suppose.

Here's hoping a return to the true form for Williams. They've wasted 6 years enough with BMW. Time to get a championship under the belt again. Will it happen next year? Some say its a long shot. I say there is a small but significant chance. If it does happen, then a magnificent triumph it will be. Truly David v. Goliath stuff.

Moving on, Rubens Barrichello has now been confirmed at BAR Honda. Its not a big surprise now but 5 months ago it would have been if that suggestion had been made. This despite all the denials Rubens himself was making not a couple of months ago. It seems that in Formula 1, if you hear a denial, chances are its true.

So who will be his team mate next year? Some suggest that Nick Heidfeld is a good candidate. Apparently, BAR hold options on the German in the event Jenson Button leaves for Williams (as well he should). I would've thought that Mario Thiessen has plans for the young German to spearhead his new works BMW team.

Nick Fry suggests that Takuma Sato still has a shot at it if he does well for the rest of the year. But thats like the chairman publicly expressing confidence in you in the old PC game, Championship Manager. Not a good sign at all. Exit visas could be next.

Poor Anthony Davidson. That's two drivers who have a better chance in a BAR seat for next year ahead of him. The word is he's looking elsewhere. To BMW perhaps. All this after getting buggered by BAR last year by not allowing him to test for Williams. At that time, BAR stated they wanted Ant for a BAR seat once Jenson leaves. Now it seems they're still not going to give him a shot.


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