The Formula 1 season has been over for just a couple of days now, but that is just long enough for Sir Frank Williams to announce his 2013 driver lineup. The Williams team had a mixed season in 2012 as consistency was an issue. Even with those issues, it was one of the best that Sir Frank has had in the last half decade as the team returned to the top of the podium with a stunning drive by Pastor Maldonado during the Spanish Grand Prix. The car had shades of brilliance all year and the team will be hoping to build on this year’s form in 2013.
Williams F1 announced this morning that Pastor will return to the team and Finnish young gun Valtteri Bottas will drive alongside him. Bottas was very impressive at this year’s young driver test in Abu Dhabi and will now have a chance to test his true skills at the highest level.
There are a lot of things to like about this move. First is that while Bottas seems quite good behind the wheel on first impression, he also brings funding to a team that needs some of it. The Williams FW34 was surprisingly good and the sponsorship that Maldonado brings to the table helped. With two talented drivers bringing in money, I think we will see Sir Frank finally get the most out of his cars.
The promotion of Bottas to a race driver is a multiyear deal and favors Williams by replacing pay to drive Bruno Senna with a hot prospect that has the cash flow to cover what Senna brought to the table. The expectations will be high for the young driver though and points will be a must if Williams has any hopes of upstaging the likes of Force India or even Sauber. While Senna was able to score 31 points, his midseason form was severely lacking. Valtteri will need to sustain points over the course of the campaign in order and be more consistent if the team is to move up the table.
Pastor Maldonado will be returning for his third season with the British privateer and will be hoping to work on his consistency as well. Pastor won the first Grand Prix for Williams since 2004 but then failed to score points in the next six events. Maldonado has a ton or raw pace, but has the tendency to hit things and retire. His performance will need to be elevated if Williams wants to move up the table. Having Bottas added I think will elevate his driving and we could see a great year for Williams as a whole.
I am pretty excited about this pairing going forward. I hope that Sir Frank and his team can make positive steps forward with the car and with the regulations staying pretty close to the same for 2013, all things indicate that Williams F1 Could have a fantastic year with these guys at the wheel. Force India and Sauber both have been put on notice.