2015 saw Williams retain their third place spot in the Constructors’ Championship, however it was clear that both Mercedes and Ferrari were in a league of their own. As the year progressed as well, Williams were often challenged by Red Bull (who had the edge over them in 2014) and by Force India, who are also supplied by Mercedes. With the same driver line-up for three years running since the days of Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher, the Williams F1 2016 main target is to not fall behind their rivals, as opposed to thinking about challenging the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari frequently.
2003: Ferrari (test driver)
2008 F1 runner-up
2015 was far better than 2014 for Felipe Massa, who managed to find his way onto the podium on a couple of occasions last year. He also made one of the strongest starts of the year last year by mincing both Mercedes at Silverstone before the first corner. He has been beaten in points by Bottas in the two seasons they have been paired up now and with Massa being one of the more experienced and older drivers and with Williams having Alex Lynn in the wings, one must wonder whether this could be the Brazilian’s swansong or not.
2012-: Williams (test then race driver)
2011 GP3 Series champion
2015 was a tad disappointing from Bottas, although he was hampered by injury and rumours that he was off to Ferrari to replace his countryman Kimi Raikkonen. Despite this, he still managed the odd trip to the podium here and there, but his performance was not as impressive as it was in 2014. Should he realistically be in the frame of a seat with Ferrari (or maybe Mercedes) for 2017, he is going to need to start delivering more eye-raising drives and more frequently than he did in 2015.
Williams showed up rather nicely in testing, and they seemed rather rapid for much of the testing. They did not complete mega amounts of distance but the times they set (especially on the Medium compound) were highly impressive compared to their rivals’ times.
With the way Formula One is however, there is very little chance that Williams will challenge Ferrari or especially Mercedes in 2016. Their biggest threat appears to be from fellow Mercedes customers Force India, but Williams should arguably have the edge over them based from what we saw in testing. They have finished in third for the last two years, showing that their return to the sharp end of the grid in 2014 was no fluke, and they should expect to finish there again in 2016.
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