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Why Williams deserves better than its current F1 plight

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Sights and Sounds of F1 Testing (1:47)

A look at the opening day of Formula One preseason testing from Barcelona. (1:47)

The problem facing F1 teams at this time of year is managing the expectation of enthusiastic sponsors. The reality of deals done in the reassuring calm of a boardroom tends to hit home in the urgent working environment of a pit garage when the car fails to come close to promised performance targets.

Such a setback would actually be a positive experience for Williams compared to what they've got right now. With pre-season testing limited to a mere eight days, losing a quarter of that potential mileage due to being unready is a fundamental and enormous setback. The only plus for Williams is that their title sponsor probably understands the score better than any new investor could.

Jonathan Kendrick, the man behind ROKiT, has been there and done it; ironically -- and conveniently for Claire Williams -- with her father's team as Frank Williams and Patrick Head set out with with their first car 41 years ago.

An ambitious 20-year-old Kendrick had joined Goodyear, the international tyre manufacturer with its European racing division based in his home town of Wolverhampton. Being the junior on the F1 squad going into the 1978 season meant Kendrick was charged with looking after the lesser entries -- among them, Williams -- while the senior Goodyear staff engineered teams such as Lotus, Brabham and Tyrrell were favoured with the limited number of qualifying tyres.

Kendrick suddenly found himself elevated to providing preferential treatment when Alan Jones began setting quick times with the neat and workmanlike Williams FW06 during practice for the first race in Argentina. That would become a permanent arrangement, particularly when Jones came close to winning the fourth round at Long Beach, one of Goodyear's two home grands prix that year in the United States. Kendrick would eventually go his own entrepreneurial way, leading via various fortunes won (and sometimes lost) to his latest venture, the telecommunications company, ROKiT.

In the meantime, Williams had not looked back since that first season with FW06. The confidence gained through earning 11 championship points (at a time when only the first six finishers scored) was enough to have Head investigate ground effect, the aerodynamic phenomenon pioneering by the 1978 champion, Lotus.

FW07 suffered initial teething problems but a tweak to the underbody during testing for the British Grand Prix had Frank Williams staring at his stopwatch in disbelief. The team's maiden victory at Silverstone -- the first of five that season -- came too late for the championship. But they were ready for 1980, Jones winning the first of seven driver's and nine constructor's titles for Williams Grand Prix Engineering, an apt name for a meat and two veg team put on earth purely to win races through technical and no-nonsense organisational excellence.

The Williams success story generated much affection among race fans. They knew that Frank had been through very hard times during previous iterations of a racing team that was often so strapped for cash mechanics would have to borrow money just to fuel the transporter for the return journey from a European grand prix.

The subsequent success was thoroughly deserved, as was the deeply ingrained quality of the team. That strength-in-depth would be put to a terrible test in March 1986 when Frank -- by his own admission, a bit of a hooligan driver -- lost control of his hire car and landed upside in a field when returning from a test session at Paul Ricard. It was a miracle that he survived.

Typically, Frank would deal with quadriplegia in the same stoic manner used to cope with previous setbacks in a life driven by massive enthusiasm for the sport and his team. That contagious love trickled through his loyal workforce, filtered into the wider world of motorsport fans -- and remains so today.

These are difficult times for everyone at Williams and their devoted followers. But the team -- and their new sponsor -- have seen similar hardships over the course of more than 750 Grands Prix.