Exactly 21 years ago, when Williams announced the relatively unknown Jenson Button as teammate to Ralf Schumacher, the British outfit had finished fifth the previous season and over the course of the previous eight seasons had finished third once, runner-up twice and champions five times.
Fast-forward to today and the Grove outfit would happily settle for fifth again, while the idea of challenging for wins, far less titles, is but a distant dream.
Appearing to take a leaf out of McLaren‘s book, the Grove outfit appears to be moving forward by looking back, and while it remains to be seen if a retro livery is on the cards, the team has called on the services of Button once again.
Last week it was announced that the 2009 world champion has been recruited as “Senior Advisor”, a role that will see the Briton bring his “vast wealth of experience ” to the aid of the team both on and off track.
Of course, many might wonder why the British outfit didn’t make better use of his services at the time, for at the end of 2000 he was released in favour of Jun-Pablo Montoya.
It was a strange move, for though released by Williams he still had an agreement with the team, and agreement, which, in his own words, included the fact that he was unable to talk about it.
Over the years that followed he drove for Benetton, Renault and BAR, which then morphed into Honda and subsequently Brawn, with whom he won the 2009 title. After that he spent seven seasons at Woking, where his teammates included Lewis Hamilton.
While the new owners have yet to establish themselves, there are worrying signs that the team’s predicament isn’t going to change in the short term, indeed the decision to retain Roy Nissany as “test driver” adds to the concern.
Meanwhile, much like his former boss, Ross Brawn at F1, Button appears to be taking up a PR role for the most successful British constructor in the history of the sport.
Talking about the team’s new owners, Dorilton Capital, he tells Sky Sports: “They’re not afraid of change.
“In F1, I think all of the teams have things that they do, a way they work and go about it,” he continues. “I think that they’re trying to change that, trying to change the sport up a little bit.
“The people that are running the team are very experienced, they have some great ideas and there’s a good atmosphere within the team.
“The team has won multiple world championships,” he adds, “obviously things change over time and people come and go. But the core of the team is still there. There’s a new sense of optimism, a lot of positive changes for the future.
“Things don’t change overnight,” he admits, “but they’re on the right trajectory at the moment. I can’t wait to go to Grove and spend some time with the drivers, some of the staff, I’ll also be doing some stuff with the grand prix weekends when I’m there. I’ll be working with the current drivers, I’ll also be working with the academy drivers.
“In terms of driving the current car, that’s probably a no,” he admits with a grin. “There’s definitely some opportunity to drive some heritage cars.”