It's fair to say that Williams hasn’t exactly had a good run of things in Formula 1 for the last few years. The rot really started in 2018, with the team only grabbing a couple of points finishes that year, before scoring just one point in 2019 and no points in 2020. Its early success in the turbo hybrid era was just a distant memory, and things had to change. The Williams family sold the team to Dorilton Capital midway through 2020, and Jost Capito became team principal in 2021.

Suddenly, things have looked better for Williams. Dorilton have brought in a lot more money for the struggling squad. Capito is the man who led Volkswagen and Sebastien Ogier to world rally glory, so he knows how to make a team successful. George Russell and Nicolas Latifi were able to haul Williams from last to eight in 2021, and as Russell departs for the Mercedes team, the team takes on former Red Bull driver Alexander Albon to partner up with Canadian Latifi. The team is on a long road towards the front of the field, and they will be hoping that 2022 sees another step in the right direction as F1 heads into its new era.

Erasing The Memory Of The Last Few Seasons

Williams George Russell 2019 Hungary
via Formula 1

The 2018 season was the last in which Williams had its Martini sponsorship, and it was nothing short of a disaster. The team had steadily slipped back from 2015 onwards, but 2018 was where its struggles were really laid bare. In 21 races, Williams scored points just three times and finished 10th in the standings with a total of 7 points. Things got worse in 2019 however, after the team failed to even run the car in the early days of pre-season testing.

Williams George Russell 2020 Mugello
via F1li

Now sponsored by ROKiT, Williams got lucky with a single point scored by Robert Kubica in Germany, but only after other cars were disqualified. However, prior to the Covid-19 delayed season starting, ROKiT departed the team, leaving them without a title sponsor. The FW43 was clearly an improved car over its 2019 predecessor, but Williams failed to score any points, although they did come close on a number of occasions. Russell should have scored in Imola before he spun off behind the safety car, and almost scored points in Mugello where he ran ninth for much of the race.

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Getting Back Into The Fight

Alex Albon Williams FW44 Barcelona 2022
via Williams F1 Team

The 2021 season was much improved, with the FW43B scoring points in the hands of Russell at Hungary, Spa, Monza, and Russia, while Latifi also scored in Hungary and Spa. Williams finished eight in 2021 with 23 points to their name. The 2022 season now sees radical new rules, and a new driver at the team. Russell is now at Mercedes, and former Red Bull man Alex Albon takes over his seat. Albon had a tough 2020 at Red Bull, but he has showcased his talent in the past, and the consensus is he should be a good fit for the team alongside the returning Latifi.

Williams Nicolas Latifi Hungary 2021
via F1 Chronicle

Latifi himself looked to improve in 2021, and towards the end of the year he was matching Russell more regularly. He and Albon have worked together before at DAMS in 2018, when the pair were in Formula 2, and they get along very well. So the two should have a great dynamic which Williams can capitalize on, ala the Norris-Sainz dynamic at McLaren. This is key to Williams having a good year, as any internal friction in the team will not help them move forwards. Just look at Haas to see how that could unfold.

Difficult To Read During Testing

Nicolas Latifi Williams FW44 Barcelona 2022
via Williams F1 Team

It was difficult to read where Williams stacked up in pre-season testing in Barcelona. The FW44 is quite the interesting looking car, with narrow vents feeding into the sidepod and very tightly packaged bodywork. The car looked reliable too, and the team quietly went about its business and Albon looked to integrate himself into his new surroundings. While they didn’t set the timesheets on fire, no one really did. Not one team would have pushed their car to the limit, so there is surely more to come from Williams in the next test in Bahrain.

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What Williams Should Aim For

Alex Albon Williams FW44 Barcelona 2022 Final Chicane
via Williams F1 Team

If everything goes to plan in Bahrain, then ideally, Williams need to aim for a solid year in the midfield. They might not suddenly find themselves back in the fight for podiums, but consistent top ten finishes would be a big step. Although, there is the chance they could aim higher thanks to the huge rules reset in 2022, but it's unlikely. But all the signs are positive heading into 2022. A new driver who is highly motivated after a year out. More money in the bank. A great team leader, and a new, big partner in Duracell. Plus, the FW44 is one of the best looking cars on the grid. For the sake of Formula 1, let's hope Williams can get back in the mix this season.

Sources: Williams F1 Team, Formula 1, F1li, F1 Chronicle

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