So for whatever reason I haven’t been following Joe Saward’s blog until now. That has changed, and fresh from a new recording session and me posting a post about not posting, interesting things are happening. According to some insider super secret agent dude, who’s probably just a drunken fan of F1 (GPD?) Senna is all but confirmed at Williams. No this is not the 1990’s all over again, and no it’s not about the good Senna.
I gave Bruno a shot. I defended him on this very show against a Belgian on full attack mode. Being of Polish decent myself, I can tell you both of our defensive tactics were remarkably underwhelming. Anyway, I did what I could to defend Bruno, saying he just needed time to blossom. Sure, LRGP were already knee deep in Boullier’s mess at that point, with a car that was making the Saubers look like Red Bulls. Still, unless the car is a total and absolute failure (funnily, like Renault was back with Grosjean the first time round) the really talented drivers will find a way to consistently drag the car places an average driver can’t. Despite a few flashes of talent, they were not great enough nor constant enough to warrant a contract going into 2012. I like the guy, I have nothing against Bruno, and seeing SEN on a timing board again gets me all excited, but he’s not cut out for F1. At best he’s GP2 worthy.
And now we come to Williams. They’ve been caught in the same pattern we’ve seen many past teams fall into. They’re perormance starts to decline, the best drivers leave meaning the car isn’t driven to it’s potential, performance continues to decline, the team starts losing sponsorship and interest, performance still drops, senior and talented engineering staff begin leaving, performance decreases, the team takes a pay driver and retains some talent, performance still declines, mass staff exodus, performance doing down still, two pay drivers are signed to try and keep the team afloat.
Senna, at this point, is nothing more than a pay driver. Some reports claim his sponsorship package is worth $15M, substantially more than the ~$5M Barrichello has to his name. Now not all pay drivers turn out to be duds. Look at Schumacher, or as my spellcheck insists on calling him, Schumpeter. Schumpeter was hired by our favorite eccentric Irishman, and went on to become F1’s most accomplished and second best driver of all time (still keeping you on top Ayrton).
The difference is, we already know the outcome in Senna’s case. Schumy was an unknown when he was signed, and although he went on to achieve greatness, he started off an unknown quantity. We’ve already seen Senna drive. As with all drivers, I’m willing to overlook their first year simply because they are entering into a brave new world of performance. However, by their second year, no matter what technical wizardry is thrown your way, you have a handle on the basics of driving a car around corners at 5G.
Bottom line, the guy doesn’t have what it takes. By the time most you are reading this, the decision should be announced, and we’ll know the fate of a once great F1 team. If Barrichello gets the seat, we might see the team claw their way back. However, if Senna gets the seat we enter the final portions of this viscous cycle I outlined earlier in this post.
Barring the paid driver being an undiscovered driving genius, performance continues to decline. The team may frantically try switching drivers left and right, jumping from sponsorship package to sponsorship package, trying to get any source of income. Moral sinks, any decent engineering staff still attached to the team jumps ship, performance… you get the point. Next? The team ceases to be. This is the route Williams is taking right now. A once prestigious team, a championship winning team, a team who’s performance was enough to pull the late Senna from McLaren, a team that was held in the regard of McLaren and Ferrari, will vanish. They will become the team that was, joining the ranks of Stewart, Jordan, Jaguar, BAR, Toyota as teams that once built the fastest machines in the world.
This can be prevented. If Williams would get their heads our of their collective asses and hire a driver with experience, someone who regardless of their poor performance of late knows how things run, we can avoid this fate. I once thought to survive Williams would need someone like Senna to take the seat. However seeing his mediocrity play out race after race I now know signing him is a death sentence.
If Williams signs Barrichello, I might get to sit with my future children, point at the TV/Holodevice/whatever the hell we watch F1 on in the future and say “Look! There’s the Williams driving around [insert Middle Eastern Tilkedrome here].” I fear this won’t be the case, and Williams will abandon any hope for the future for the short term cash infusion, dooming them to failure. I predicted a team collapse by 2015 if they take Senna on, but after reading up on other teams, and some more thought, I was wrong.
If Williams sign Senna, they won’t make it to 2013.