MAY 9, 2003
Williams and BMW
There are a lot of stories circulating at the moment over the relationship between Williams and BMW, with some fairly hard quotes from Gerhard Berger, who is only working for BMW on an ad hoc basis, to finish the dealings between the Munich manufacturer and the team.
Berger was quoted as saying things which seemed to be aimed at hurting Williams, which is an odd way of negotiating. The negotiations have been long and difficult but the signs are that they will ultimately reach an agreement. The issue at stake is believed to be how much involvement BMW will have in the chassis production process.
Williams have not had the greatest chassis for the last couple of years but the team has still finished second and third in the last two Constructors' titles so one must remember that all things are relative.
BMW management may wish to put pressure on Williams by suggesting that there are other choices - but the fact is that there are not. BMW can either renew with Williams or face a five-year period of building up another team to a position where it might be a winner. The stakes in the F1 game are rising all the time and one must remember also that if the BMW men in charge of the F1 program do not deliver they too will find themselves under threat of being moved on and new men brought in.
Williams is strengthening its engineering package all the time, but these things take time. A new windtunnel, to run alongside the existing facility, is in the planning stages and the entire aerodynamic department is being revamped. Results do not happen overnight and given the evidence of San Marino, where Williams was the closest challenger to Ferrari in the race, the team is still right up there with the best if the cars can be made to work.
The problem with a new FW25 aerodynamic concept is that it takes time for the whole package to be understood and the team went into this season saying that it would not be easy but that development would bring results by the end of the year.
We are now witnessing the difficult phase although all the rumors would stop dead if Williams produced a good result in Austria. This will largely depend on race engineering issues and whether the car can be made to work well with the Michelin tires. Given the performance we have seen from the Renaults, there is a need for aerodynamic development but the team is not standing around idle...
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