In his latest series, Rach F1’s Matthew Gannon predicts the fate of each team in the 2016 season. After giving his verdict on Mercedes and Ferrari, he now turns his attention to Williams...
Constructors Championship - 3rd.
Williams have an annoying knack for never showing the true extent of their pace in testing. Their mediocre pace, combined with the fact that we know Catalunya isn't horrendous for the Williams car, would lead us to the belief they may lose their status as third best team in the pack.
The big concern for a team like Williams is the fact that they prioritise straightline speed over downforce. This makes them perfect for Monza and Spa, but sacrifices their results at Monaco, Hungary and Singapore. They have the Mercedes power unit and two very talented drivers who push each other to the edge, but once again I doubt their credentials to bridge the gap to the top two.
Valtteri Bottas - 5th.
Bottas was quiet last year compared to 2014 as Williams lost ground to rivals. While he still awaits his first pole and victory, the podium has become a semi-regular visit for the young Finn. This year I doubt he will take pole as the car lacks downforce in the wet and the ability to tackle Mercedes in the dry.
We all know the Williams will be quick and if we see some good strategy calls, the car should be quick enough to hold on to position down the straights and strong enough in the corners - something Bottas is fully able to exploit to the max. For this year it will be a case of close but no cigar. For Bottas the main target will be to beat Massa and show the bosses of all teams once more why he is a champion of the future.
Felipe Massa - 6th.
The experienced Brazilian is now entering his 15th year in Formula 1, having made his debut for Sauber back in 2002. The 2008 world champion for 45 seconds has took Williams’ only pole position of the V6 hybrid era, but like we said previously, this season doesn't look like he can add to the tally. The main aim will be to outshine Bottas and secure a couple of podiums, should the Mercedes or Ferrari have accidents or reliability issues.
Pre-season testing implies Williams are in the mix - no outstanding laps, but nothing too concerning for the team to feel worried heading into 2016. Podiums are a reasonable expectation, especially on power heavy circuits such as Monza or Mexico. The main question will be who will score them and crucially can they stay close enough to capitalise on bad luck for one of the top four. However, unfortunately, I doubt their credentials to hit that final target, unless they significantly improve their strategy calls.
by Rachit Thukral