Williams F1
Williams team silly season
By Andrew Hooper
December 21 2016

With Technical Chief Pat Symonds confirmed as leaving the Williams team and with continued reports that Paddy Lowe will be leaving Mercedes to join Williams, as well as the uncertainty as to whether or not Valtteri Bottas will leave the team to be replaced by Felipe Massa, it is certainly turning out to be Williams' own silly season. This is not the best of situations as the team prepares for the 2017 F1 season, a season that will see some of the biggest changes in Formula One in recent times.
 
 Williams team silly season
 
Massa - Symonds - Smedley
 

In what is becoming a time of major change at the Williams team as they prepare for the 2017 Formula One season it was confirmed that Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds would be leaving the team at the end of 2016.

Below is the release from the Williams team:

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Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC (Ticker: WGF1) today announces that Pat Symonds will be stepping down from the role of Chief Technical Officer of WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING at the end of 2016.

Pat joined Williams towards the end of the 2013 Formula One season on a three-year contract, and in that time has helped oversee a strong turn around in the teamís performances on the race track, with 14 podiums secured over the past three seasons. Pat will be departing on 31st December 2016.

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, added; ďPat has been a tremendous asset to this team over the past three years. Patís appointment was the start of a major restructuring exercise, and he has been pivotal in reshaping Williams into what is a much stronger racing team today. I would like to thank him for all of his hard work and commitment during that time. We now look to the future and will be announcing details regarding the teamís technical leadership in due course.Ē

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Reports still have Paddy Lowe leaving Mercedes to join Williams in 2017 but these are yet to be confirmed. On top of this there are still questions hanging over who will fill their 2017 driver line-up, or at least who will fill one of the driving positions. Rookie Lance Stroll is confirmed but as to whether Valtteri Bottas will remain at the team is still the subject of many reports having him move to Mercedes to replace the retiring Rosberg.

Now reports have Felipe Massa reversing his decision to leave Formula One and that he has accepted an offer to remain with the Williams team in 2017. This would open the door for Valtteri to leave the team because Felipe's return would allow the team to have that experienced driver which the Williams team have always said was vital going into the 2017 season. It has also been reported that if Valtteri does not leave the Williams team Felipe would simply continue with his exit from Formula One.

At a time of major changes in Formula One the Williams team is potentially heading down a path that will see them struggle in 2017 even if Paddy Lowe does join the team. It has been questioned as to why Williams did not allow Symonds to remain for a further year as the team allows Lowe to settle in. But maybe the choice was taken out of Williams hands with Symonds choosing to leave given that Lowe would be his replacement. If Lowe does not join the Williams team they will be left without a Technical Head.

On the driver front losing Valtteri to Mercedes maybe a good move financially with Mercedes prepared to reduce the cost of their engines to the Williams team. But as a driver the team would be losing one of their major assets. Even if Felipe does return to the team 2016 has proven that Valtteri was the better of the pair so losing him will be a major blow to the team simply when you look at it from his ability to assess and get the best from the new 2017 cars. So if Valtteri leaves don't expect the Williams team to perform well out on the track.

In the lead-up to Christmas the news coming out of the Williams team does not offer any feeling of confidence that the team will be fully prepared for the 2017 season with likely to lose their best driver, lose stability in terms of their Technical staff, as well as having to cope with the potential difficulties of a new untested driver. It will be a difficult 2017 for the Williams team but maybe it is the case that the team is prepared to weather the storm of one difficult year knowing that things should improve down the track. But will their sponsors be so forgiving with reports having their title sponsor not keen on the idea of having such a young driver join the team given the fact that their product is an alcoholic beverage.