Just ten days to go now, and Williams has already won the first of this year’s titles.
The new Williams Martini Racing FW36 has to be the best looking car on the grid, surely?
This morning, after weeks and weeks of hoaxes disseminated via Twitter, Williams and Martini officially launched what must be the most anticipated livery in F1 since Penthouse magazine sponsored James Hunt wannabe Rupert Keegan in the 1970s.
Williams has gone simple; the car is very, very white, with Martini’s blue and red stripe whooshing up and over the nose, behind the driver before bursting out again over the lower flanks of the engine cover. Wow.
The team — who have always not always got the colouring-in bit right — didn’t really have a choice. Martini’s stripes have only twice run on a red background, on the Brabham-Alfa’s in the 1970s and on Alfa Romeo’s own DTM cars twenty years later.
The other icons on your wall — the Porsche 917s and 935s, the Brabham-Cosworths, the Lancia Le Mans and WRC cars and not forgetting Colin McRae’s WRC Ford Focus — have all had the stripes on white. It’s a livery that can make any car look good. Even a 2014 Formula One car.
Williams have always prided themselves on being ‘the racer’s racers’, so this morning’s event, with its supermodel hosts, endless talk of ‘F1 lifestyle’ and occasional dips in to the London lexicon of all things buzzy (‘artisan’ and ‘mixologist’ among others) didn’t sit too comfortably.
It was left to Claire Williams to read from the new partner’s cheesy script (“that inimitable Italian lifestyle and belle vita”) while father Sir Frank Williams was clearly just very happy to reference a ‘very generous budget’. Well done, Sir Frank.
The new car, the FW36, has enjoyed a more than satisfactory test. “Every problem we have encountered along the way has been resolved,” says Claire. Williams ended 12 days of testing in Jerez and Bahrain with the fastest overall time.
That suggests Williams are well along their development curve, while there have been significant hires in Williams’ technical department, most significantly Rob Smedley who joins from Ferrari. Sadly Smedley won’t be race-engineering Felipe Massa this year, so their pits-to-car bromance is over, at least in public.
Massa, we know, can be quick, and must be extremely motivated to show Ferrari the error of their ways. Valtteri Bottas, meanwhile, was once described by Sir Frank as the fastest he’d ever seen. He’ll need to prove that this year.
In short, the team has it all. Praise is surely due to Claire Williams – who faced a baptism of fire last year as the terrible FW35 lumbered around at the back – for fitting it all together.
We’ll bring you interviews with the Williams big hitters later, so keep checking back. For now, what do you make of that livery?