Williams FW33

The Sam Michael and Ed Wood designed Williams FW33 was to set an unenviable record of being the most poorly performing Williams car in their entire history with a ninth place finish in the World Constructors Championship.




Best race result


Best WCC result






Fastest Laps


Total Points

The livery of the Williams FW33 was inspired by Williams’ Rothmans era of 1994 – 1997 (see Williams FW16), with a silver stripe and a metallic red stripe adding to the dark blue of previous seasons.

Williams was one of a number of teams trying to evoke previous glory with a retro paint job, with ‘Lotus-Renault‘ – an iteration of what is sometimes called ‘The Enstone team’, which started off life as Toleman, then became Benetton, Renault, Lotus-Renault and then back to Renault – favouring the black and gold of Team Lotus (a different Lotus altogether), and ‘Team Lotus‘ – a third and entirely separate Lotus (are you still with me??) also trying to cash in on the success and heritage of the original Team Lotus by copying their 1950s & 1960s livery.

At least Williams were harking back to an era in their own history for which they could claim credit, even if they found the success more difficult to replicate!

It was Williams’ last year being powered by Cosworth with the team switching to Renault engines for the 2012 season.

A new set of FIA technical regulations led to Williams taking an aggressive approach to the design of the FW33 in an effort to gain back some of the downforce that would be lost by the ban on the f-duct and double diffusers.

Also new for 2012 was KERS which harvested energy while the car was under power giving the driver the opportunity of releasing it at will giving him a boost with which he could either overtake, defend or simply improve his laptime.

Pirelli replaced Bridgestone becoming the sole tyre supplier.

A significant amount of effort was focussed on the rear-end of the car, moving suspension mountings and reducing the size of the new, semi-experimental transmission so it was all more compact.

From the outset of the 2011 formula 1 season it was clear that the Williams FW33 lacked the pace it needed to challenge for points.

Williams struggled to get the rear end and brand new diffuser to generate the required downforce to make it competitive.

“I’m not an engineer but I’ve seen lots of good cars and lots of bad cars – and ours wasn’t quick enough” Sir Frank Williams said of the Williams FW33.

“It was deficient in most of the areas that matter, but we were completely lacking in the most important one of all, which is aero. And probably a bit of horsepower. It just wasn’t a quick car.”

The season started badly with two double retirements for drivers Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado, and the season refused to get any better with three successive double finishes, none of which were in the top twelve.

The high point of the season was two successive ninth places for Barrichello in Monaco and Canada, and a tenth for Maldonado in Belgium, the team’s last points finish of the season, leaving Williams in a lowly 9th in the championship.

Prior to 2018 the FW33 was the worst performing Williams car, and 2011 Williams’ worst ever season.

But if the FW33 set the bar pretty low, the FW41 that followed in 2018 would not only fall short of what the FW33 achieved, it reset it so low that Shemika Charles – world limbo record holder (I Googled that) would struggle to shuffle beneath it.

More about that here.

Williams Logo
Cosworth normally aspirated 2.4 litre V8

Williams FW33 Specs

Designed by:Sam Michael & Ed Wood
Year(s) active:2011
Official entrant:AT&T Williams
Drivers:Rubens Barrichello, Pastor Maldonado
Engine:Cosworth normally aspirated 2.4 litre V8
Brakes:Carbon Industrie carbon discs and pads & 6 piston AP calipers
Transmission:7-speed semi-automatic gearbox with reverse gear electro-hydraulically actuated seamless shift
Preceded by:Williams FW32
Succeeded by:Williams FW34

Williams FW33 Results


BARRICHELLO DNF DNF 13 15 17 9 9 12 13 DNF 13 16 12 13 17 12 15 12 14
MALDONADO DNF DNF 18 17 15 18 DNF 18 14 14 16 10 11 11 14 DNF DNF 14 DNF
Categories: Cars

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