7th February 2012
Williams became the ninth team to reveal their 2012 car, as they uncovered it before winter testing commenced at Jerez. This year symbolises the start of a new era for Williams with a lot of changes within the team and not just on the car – Team Principal Frank Williams described it as a “fresh start”.
Pastor Maldonado has been retained for the 2012 season being paired with Bruno Senna. Valterri Bottas is the team’s reserve driver and he has been given 15 Friday Practice outings. Two key members of the Williams team – Sam Michael and Patrick Head – have moved on while title sponsor AT&T has also left the team. 2012 will also see Williams reunite with Renault engines as they aim to have a better season than 2011 – their worst in their 35 year history in the sport.
Pastor Maldonado won the GP2 championship in 2010 and was linked with a drive for HRT and the ill-fated Stefan GP. At the end of 2010 he drove at the Young Driver test in Abu Dhabi for Williams and HRT and was eventually confirmed with Williams to partner Grand Prix veteran Rubens Barrichello. Maldonado’s rookie year was not the most promising as he scored 1 point over the course of the season. Of course it was not just him having a poor season, with the whole team having struggled, but he will be aiming to do more this season as he remains with the team for his second year.
Bruno Senna made his Formula One debut in 2010, driving for HRT. He competed in 18 of the 19 races, being replaced for the British GP. He did not retain his drive for 2011, instead signing for Lotus to be test driver for the season. When Robert Kubica was injured in a rally accident, the team tested Nick Heidfeld and Senna for the drive, but in the end it was the more experienced German who got it. However, Senna was brought in for the Hungarian GP onwards and finished the season for Lotus – his highest finish being 9th.
Valtteri Bottas has been a Williams test driver since 2010, but 2012 will see him get more track action has he has been guaranteed 15 Friday practice sessions. In 2011 he won the GP3 championship.
Team Principal Frank Williams: “The team has had a good winter at the factory and we feel ready and strong for the fight.”
Chief Operations Engineer Mark Gillan: “It is imperative that we demonstrate a continuous improvement in our performance and deliver results throughout the season.”
Pastor Maldonado: “I’m happy to be racing again with Williams. I have faith in the FW34 and the Renault engine and so have high hopes for the races ahead.”
Bruno Senna: “I’m very excited to be back in action with the Williams F1 Team in Jerez. This is my ever first pre-season testing programme since I started in Formula One two years ago.”
Valtteri Bottas: “I am really excited about the year ahead and grateful to the team for giving me this opportunity.”