Williams Martini RacingValtteri BottasFelipe Massa
2015 Constructors' Standings - 3rd

Williams faces a challenge to prove it hasn't peaked already whilst resisting the attentions of the massing mid-field behind it in 2016. It's performed a remarkable feat by finishing top three for the past two seasons, but nothing less than wins will be considered a success this year.

Having scribed the fairytale story of the 2014 F1 season, though Williams Martini Racing's run to third again last season remains a remarkable achievement, it did somewhat disappear from view behind the leaders in 2015 in what became a relatively anonymous year.

Indeed, it is therefore almost a shame that - after pledging it would be going more radical for 2016 to capitalise on its early 'safe' third in the constructors' standings -, it has turned up with a car that looks suspiciously similar to last year's competitive, albeit flawed car.

Of course, looks are deceiving and not only is the FW38 likely to be hiding many modifications, it will probably turn up to Australia boasting several new parts just in time for the race weekend as Williams often does.

Testing has placed Williams almost exactly where it was in 2014 and 2015, though Valtteri Bottas told Crash.net that he is certain the FW38 represents a bigger step forward over the FW37 than the latter did over the FW36.

After dismal showings in Monaco and Hungary, low speed grip has been a source of focus, though Felipe Massa didn't sound terribly optimistic of a step forward when asked.

Indeed, the man himself faces a pivotal year to prove the sun isn't setting on his twilight career. The Brazilian has enjoyed a revival of fortunes under Williams, but a third year adrift of Bottas - who will no doubt be linked with Raikkonen's Ferrari drive again if he can get his season off to a good start - puts him under pressure. Bottas, on the other hand, needs to establish more air between himself and Massa to show he is still regarded as a potential future champion to rival teams.

In fact, Williams as a whole faces a few questions in 2016. Does it really have the resource to become a race win contender, can it smooth off some of those occasionally embarrassing operational errors, is consolidation going to be as good as it gets for the historic outfit?

That said, should Williams begin the year where it left off, three years into the current formula against bigger budgets outfits, it still deserves plaudits, but with new regulations looming, this could now prove its best chance to rediscover former glories.

 

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