If you want to win in F1, your choice for engines comes down to Renault (which powers the dominant Red Bull team), Mercedes (who powers runner up McLaren-Mercedes) or Ferrari. I’d scratch Ferrari off the list, since the manufacturer isn’t going to share their best technology with B and C level teams. Renault, on the other hand, is enjoying reasonable success even aside from the top-tier Red Bull team. Lotus Renault, though under-funded, has managed some impressive performances from drivers Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov.
Willims F1, on the other hand, has had a season best described as “disappointing.” Even veteran Rubens Barichello can’t seem to bring the Cosworth powered Williams to better than mid-pack, which doesn’t bode well for a driver approaching the end of his F1 career. There may be good news for 2012, however, since Williams has just penned a deal to buy engines from Renault for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The deal may extend beyond 2013 as well, since the new turbocharged V-6 engine formula takes effect in 2014, and Renault would love to sign up as many customers as possible.
The deal also harkens back to the glory days of Williams F1, since the team won the bulk of their constructor’s championships using Renault power. Frank Williams knows how to design a race car, so here’s hoping that a new engine supplier is all it takes to return the team to prominence.