Williams Racing finds itself in a Formula 1 ‘void’ created by the recent partnering up of manufacturers and smaller teams to create an A/B team business model according to ex-Williams driver and now Sky TV pundit and commentator Martin Brundle.
Speaking at Autosport International, Brundle said:
“[In F1] You either need to be a manufacturer team or a Haas and Toro Rosso-style B-team with the hand-me-downs.”
“That leaves a void in the middle where Williams and McLaren find themselves because they’re not works teams and they’re certainly not B-teams.”
“It’s tough for them when they’re fighting a team like Haas, that has a completely different business model, and they’re getting a lot of stuff from Ferrari.”
Brundle is alluding to a fairly recent F1 development where front-running teams have a mutually beneficial relationship with a smaller team or teams whereby the b-team gets hardware and financial support from their ‘big brother’ and in return the a-team gets data (from races and testing), political support and the opportunity to blood their young drivers.
Williams have always had a staunch desire to be a Formula 1 constructor, (building their own cars, but relying on an engine manufacturer to provide them with power) independent of another team, and so have fought against the trend.
They, along with McLaren have encouraged Liberty to find a structure that allows a team who wishes to remain independent to compete with the manufacturer teams (Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault) and their B-teams (Haas, Toro Rosso and Sauber) on a level playing field if the structure continues.
F1’s owners find themselves in a difficult position – there are a limited number of teams who have the desire and the financial ability to participate in Formula 1 – currently just ten.
As such, these ten teams hold a lot of sway but have very different needs and objectives.
Liberty needs to indulge the manufacturers – whose deal to supply engines to other constructors and growing links to other teams, as well as having bucketloads of cash has given them a sizeable (and ever increasing) amount of clout.
They also have to look after the smaller teams, who often survive as a result of the support of the manufacturers.
And independent constructors like Williams too – they have a great deal of heritage and support and bring a lot to the show, and they must be given the opportunity to compete and to succeed.
Liberty also needs to create a sport which is attractive to manufacturers and potential team-owners not yet in F1 in order to ensure its future health.
Measures introduced in 2010 to encourage new teams to enter fell way short of what was required of them and all three teams that joined – ‘Lotus’, HRT and Virgin/Marussia/Manor have since folded.