WIlliams will make a decision on their next engine supplier this year before the new era of Formula 1 power units begins in 2026.
Williams have been partnered with Mercedes since the beginning of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014, but new team principal James Vowles has said that the team is weighing up their options ahead of the new engine regulations which come into place in 2026.
“Clearly, we’re happy with the relationship that’s been in place for many years,” Vowles said.
“Mercedes have produced really, fundamentally, the best on-average power unit across certainly the last 15 years, and… where we are at the moment, certainly with Mercedes and other OEMs [original equipment manufacturers], is we’re reviewing as we have to, and we need to ensure we review the marketplace and make decisions on that shortly, about where we are in terms of relationships.”
Vowles added that a decision would have to be made this year and that for teams to move away from their existing suppliers after 2023 would be a ‘struggle’.
“To win championships, you look at who’s won it; typically it’s OEM and you need to be manufacturer-backed… and that’s the difficult pathway that we have to fight on the way,” he said.
“I think for now, we have a realistic target on our shoulders. We know that step one, with what we have right now, we have the ability to move forward from where we are. And that’s goal number one, that’s reviewing the future.”
Questions had been raised over the independence of WIlliams from Mercredes following the instalment of the former Mercedes engineer as team principal.
However, Williams prides itself in their independent history, and that is something Vowles recognises.
“At some point you have to be in charge of your own destiny, and you’re simply not when you rely on someone else providing you parts.”
But as a customer team, Vowles acknowledges the pros and cons of a close partnership with a manufacturer.
“A simple example of it: as good as the components are, you don’t know what your aero direction will be until very late, and it’s normally dominated by the decision of the manufacturer’s circumstance.
“However, we have bigger fish to fry at the moment,” he concluded.
The Bahrain Grand Prix welcomed Williams’ best start to a season in six years. Alex Albon secured a point with his tenth-place finish while rookie Logan Sargeant’s confidence-filled opening lap helped him secure P12 on debut.
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