HISTORY: Extremely competitive in the eighties to the point of ubiquitous dominance in the early nineties, it's fair to say that the beleaguered privateers have seen better days - specifically those early nineties, that I just mentioned, just then. Since then they've been chewed up and spat out by Toyota and are just getting back on their feet, with their first race win since 2004 coming last year, but something has gone very wrong when you win a race and finish that low in the championship.
16. Pastor MALDONADO (VEN)
17. Valtteri BOTTAS (FIN)
I'll say it again - something has gone very wrong when you win a race but finish that low in the championship. In the case of Pastor Maldonado, it was combining near Grosjeanic levels of shuntiness with the lack of the x-factor that allows an Alonso-type to transcend a rubbish car. He was lucky than a certain Lotus driver took the spotlight off of his mishaps, but despite all this (and with some trepidation) we look forward to seeing what he can produce this year.
Having seen the light and given the lesser Senna the boot, Williams will turn to the vaguely amusingly-named Valtteri Bottas for their number two driver. He's had the best part of three years as a test driver, which is an eternity by today's standards, and regularly outpaced Maldonado in free practice last year. It's not exaggerating to say he's the most highly regarded rookie driver of this year's crop by a million billion trillion miles, times infinity plus one. Squared.
2012 PERFORMANCE: 8th place, 76 points.
Pastor MALDONADO (VEN) 15th, 45 points. Best finish: 1st, Spain
Bruno SENNA (BRA): 16th, 31 points. Best finish: 6th, Malaysia
Make no mistake, Williams had an abject season last time out, though the memorable victory in Spain (coupled with the bizarre pitlane fire afterwards) is all most people will remember - and rightly so, given how little else of value they achieved.
Barcelona aside, they disappeared entirely from the top ten positions, but Senna 2: Electric Boogaloo chipped in with some points midseason, which helped us remember that there was this team called Williams on the grid from time to time, but they were left rueing missed opportunities, such as Maldonado's last lap wall visit in Australia, which left them well adrift of their midfield adversaries.
2013 PROSPECTS: If Maldonado can keep it on the road and Bottas lives up to the hype, this could be their best season in ages - as long as they don't get outdeveloped throughout the year.