On a gloomy morning in Portugal, Williams rolled their 2009 challenger out of a garage for the world’s media to see. The FW31 has been painted in an interim livery, similar to what the Oxfordshire-based team did last year. The car, complete with new front and rear wings, displays a wide and relatively low nose as well as beautifully sculptured sidepods. Test driver Nico Hulkenberg was on call and completed a few installation laps on the wet circuit.
Williams haven’t won a championship in many years, the last drivers title claimed by the private team being from Jacques Villeneuve in 1997. Since then, the once successful team has slowly slid down the grid as Frank Williams suffered problems with engines and finances. However, still managing to keep the outfit going, Williams and other co-owner Patrick Head will be hoping the new regulations will see them progress up the field as others face troubles of their own.
The team have invested in the future of Formula One by becoming part owners of a hybrid technology company, Automotive Hybrid Technology, which has since been renamed to incorporate Williams’s name and a move to the Grove factory has allowed the development of the only in-house KERS system to be built. With this advantage over the troubled Ferrari/Magneti-Marelli system (who also supply Scuderia Toro Rosso), it could be that Williams finally start to make inroads into the gap that separates them from the top of the grid.
Photos © WilliamsF1/LAT Photographic.