Today Williams became the latest team to take the covers off its 2012 Formula 1 contender, with the former World Champions unveiling their new car, dubbed the FW34, in the minutes leading up to the first day of pre-season testing at Jerez.
As team founder Sir Frank Williams readily admitted, the 2012 season is “a fresh start” for the team, which endured the worst season in its long history last year. The team claimed a paltry five points and finished a distant ninth in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
In its quest to solve its problems, it undertook a major technical revamp, which included the departures of senior figures, including technical director Sam Michael. In came former McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, while the team also signed a new engine deal with Renault, reuniting it with the engine-maker that helped the team dominate the sport in the mid-1990s.
The FW34 carries less than five per cent of its components over from its lamentable predecessor, while it too sports the unsightly ‘platypus’ stepped nose that has been the
eyesore feature of almost all of the 2012 season launches to-date.
“We have a new car, new driver line-up, new engine and new senior personnel,” Williams is quoted as saying at the launch.
Those changes he refers to also extend to the driver line-up. Veteran driver Rubens Barrichello was shown the door at the end of the season, while Bruno Senna was announced as his replacement, with much fanfare. The nephew of the late Ayrton Senna brings with him crucial sponsorship backing (rumoured to be as much as $16 million a season) from his sponsors Embratel and Gillette.
Another new sponsor logo on the car is from anti-dandruff shampoo group Head & Shoulders, who will compete head-to-head against Lotus F1’s anti-dandruff shampoo sponsor, Clear.
But one set of sponsor stickers that haven’t yet adorned the FW34 are from the Middle East state of Qatar, which was rumoured to be considering a hefty sponsorship investment via the Qatar National Bank. The team is still in desperate need of additional funding after the loss of title sponsor AT&T from its books over the New Year.