Former multiple F1 World Champions Williams could be considering a future tie-up with Volkswagen, reports claim – with the eponymously-named outfit's founder Sir Frank Williams acknowledging that 'we are stronger with a manufacturer than as a private team' and admitting that he has 'an affinity with Germany'.
Despite having claimed no fewer than seven drivers' crowns and nine constructors' trophies during its illustrious history in the top flight, Williams' glorious heyday has for some time now been little more than a distant memory. There have been no race victories since Juan-Pablo Montoya triumphed in the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix season finale at Interlagos – and , indeed, only seven podiums over that five-year fallow period, a far cry from the Grove-based concern's glory days in the 1980s, 1990s and early part of this Millennium.
Some of Williams' greatest successes have come during works partnerships with major manufacturers including Renault, Honda and BMW – with the Bavarian marque powering the last of the team's cars to win a grand prix, the FW26. Currently running with customer engines provided by independent British supplier Cosworth, it is suggested that an eventual relationship with VW is far from beyond the realms of probability.
“We are stronger with a manufacturer than as a private team, no question,” 67-year-old Williams told German publication Sport Bild
, “and of course we have an affinity with Germany. I remember well, quite early on, we went to the races with VW buses — we sometimes even slept in them!
“German cars are great. With Mercedes, Brawn won the title last year, and with McLaren in the previous year – and now they (Mercedes) are up there with their own team.”
Wolfsburg-based VW has repeatedly stressed in recent months that it would only countenance a move into F1 under the 'World Engine' regulations proposed by governing body the FIA for introduction in 2013, something the car maker believed would yield 'huge savings'.
“At the moment F1 is not a topic for us,” underlined VW motor racing representative and former grand prix ace Hans-Joachim Stuck. “If, however, the conditions change, we would have to think about it.”
Any future agreement between Williams and VW would likely take the form of the sale of a stake in the team, with a 20 per cent share having already been sold to Austrian investor and part-time racing driver Toto Wolff last November.