Jacques Villeneuve, the last driver to win a world championship with Williams, believes his former team is “dead” after its recent struggles.
Williams currently sits at the bottom of the constructors’ championship, 12 points adrift of its nearest rival Sauber. A steady slump in form has seen the former championship-winning team slip from third in the title race in 2014 and 2015 to its current position in the space of just three years.
Villeneuve, who is known for being outspoken, believes deputy team principal Claire Williams is to blame after taking control of the team in 2013.
“The team is dead,” he told Motorsport-Total.com. “There is no management. There was a choice back then [in 2013], you either put the heiress or the heir [in charge].
“And they put Claire instead of Jonathan [Williams, Claire’s brother]. Big mistake. Obviously, just look where the team is at now.”
Williams received criticism at the start of the season for taking on the least experienced driver line-up on the grid with Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin. The presence of both drivers brings money to the team, but Villeneuve believes it was the wrong decision not to go with a more experienced driver.
“When it comes to a team like that you first have to look at the top of the pyramid. They are completely blind when it’s all about realising where the team stands.
“You have to admit you’ve messed up, I do not see how the team is going to get out of it, I just do not see it. If you have two drivers without experience, that won’t help. Not in a team like this.”
Speaking at Silverstone last weekend, Claire Williams said she found the team’s current situation “soul destroying” but is convinced the it is only temporary.
“This year hasn’t been great for us but it is a blip,” she said. “We had in 2014 and 2015 two third places and in 2016 and 2017 two fifths, and we must look at this is just a trough.
“Every team in any sport goes through those moments. Personally for me it’s incredibly difficult to see the team go through this. We all hold our hands up and take responsibility and not least I have a part to play in that and we must all look at ourselves and make sure we’re doing the best job that we possibly can for this team because this team deserves to stay in Formula One. This is all we do.
“We’re in Formula One because we love going motor racing and we have to make sure that we create a world at Williams that keeps our team viable in this sport and relevant in this sport and still maintains our status in this sport. That’s hugely important to me.”