After Pastor Maldonado won the team’s first Grand Prix in almost eight years Williams shot back to relevance after a stunningly complete race weekend from their driver. However within hours of the chequered flag dropping the team’s pit garage was engulfed in flames after a fire broke out. Luckily the majority of the team avoided injury but numerous mechanics were taken to hospital with one suffering quite severe burning.
Their fortunes on the track have seen Williams ebb from joy to despair in an instant. Apart from his Barcelona victory Maldonado has shown a stunning turn of speed for much of the year but the former GP2 champion has also been at the centre of numerous accidents that have led to questions about his race-craft, and from some quarters his intelligence.
Maldonado has comfortably been the faster Williams driver with the Venezuelan holding a 9-2 qualifying advantage over his teammate, Bruno Senna. However from the opening race of the season we have seen the two sides of Maldonado. In Melbourne with the race in its closing laps Maldonado was running in a comfortable fifth place but crashed heavily and retired while battling with Alonso.
This has been seen in numerous other races and it has limited Maldonado to just one other points finish apart from his Spanish heroics. If he could iron out these mistakes, such as clashing with Hamilton in Valencia on the final lap while battling for a step on the rostrum, he would be a force to be reckoned with.
I have been critical of Maldonado in the past but I am the first to admit that he has made tremendous strides in the recent years and he has shown this year just how deserving of a place on the grid he is. Now it is crucial that he can eradicate the errors and start scoring points on a consistent basis.
Ironically that is what Senna has been able to do this year. The Brazilian has scored points on six occasions and while he has not had the headline grabbing performances of Maldonado he has blossomed into a consistent racer who has made the most of his opportunities in the majority of races. It is worth remembering that after a rookie campaign with HRT and a handful of races with Lotus last year that this is the first season that Senna has had some stability in Formula 1.
Moving forward Williams will have more opportunities to score points. They have a fast car in qualifying and one that is easy on its tyres in races. In modern day Formula 1 that is one of the most important combinations to have.
After their dismal struggle last year, the worst season in the team’s history, Williams have now shot back to the limelight and look capable of sustaining this success.