Formula 1

Williams boss believes 2014 season proves money isn't everything in F1

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Williams team boss Claire Williams believes her team's success in 2014 proves you don't need the biggest wallet to succeed in Formula 1.

The Grove based team enjoyed a remarkable return to the front at the start of the new V6 hybrid era as they benefited the most from a switch to Mercedes engines.

Indeed Felipe Massa was the only driver not named Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg to claim a pole position during the season doing so at the Austrian Grand Prix in June.

The Mercedes power unit allied to a very slippery car made the FW36 the quickest in a straight line pretty much all season and that was reflected in nine podium finishes and third place in the Constructors' championship beating an old adversary in Ferrari.

Fighting at the top with a midfield budget

Yet despite that, Williams continues to compete on a budget far lower than that of those they were competing with for much of the season.

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Their achievements therefore run against the current perception that greater money equals greater success in F1, indeed the amount Williams spends is similar to those in the midfield.

"For us, from where we were last season, it's such an amazing achievement against the likes of Ferrari which is operating on a budget twice the size of ours," Williams told ESPN.

"That's such an achievement and, for me, that says everything that we need to say around all of the conversations going on at the moment."

F1's money debate rumbles on

Currently the issue of costs and the distribution of the sport's income is a hot topic in F1.

Cries have been heard by teams like Force India, Sauber and Lotus to bridge the large inequality gap between the top and bottom teams, a gap that has already forced two teams into administration and is continuing to threaten the three mentioned, yet Williams, who are a member of the powerful Strategy Group that decides F1 rules for historical reasons, joined the big teams in vetoing a call for a budget cap earlier in the year by FIA President Jean Todt.

While there are reasonable reasons why the budget cap may not be the best option to deal with F1's money issues, that does get lost amid the apparent desire from F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone for either three-car teams or customer cars, something that most fans are strongly opposed to.

Engine costs spiral

Currently both topics have gone quiet with three-car teams not on the agenda at least for 2015 while any reference for customer cars have pointed more towards 2016, however, Williams did address another area that has been a strong part of the cost debate in recent months, engines.

With the switch to more complex V6 turbo hybrid power for 2014 the cost of supplying them sky-rocketed.

Indeed reports suggested smaller teams were spending nearly all of their FOM allocated money just on the new units from the three different suppliers.

Is an engine partnership essential?

But the area Williams focussed on is whether a customer engine team can ever succeed against the works team.

Recently McLaren boss Ron Dennis suggested one of the driving forces behind his team's switch from Mercedes to Honda from 2015 was because they would get the privilege of being the main focus of Honda's F1 participation.

Red Bull currently enjoy a similar partnership with Renault as the two parties have become increasingly close in their developmental work as customer and supplier.

While Williams suggested such a tie up with an interested party would not be immediately turned down she praised the current situation with Mercedes and pointed at the multiple championship successes with the likes of Renault the team have enjoyed over the years.

"We have a great engine supplier in Mercedes and we're lucky to have a great relationship with them. At the moment that works but if an engine manufacturer came in and talked to us, why wouldn't you have that conversation? Of course you would," she said.

"But I know there have been comments in the press recently saying you can't survive unless you've got that backing, it's totally not correct. We've survived for many years - in fact for all our time in Formula One - without having an engine manufacturer solely looking after us and there's no reason we can't continue to do that."

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