Williams Sam Michael on F-Duct and KERS return
Sam Michael is not expecting Williams’s F-duct system to be fully up and running on its car for “a couple of months”, following its initial tests during practice in China.
The Grove-based squad was on of several teams to try out a basic form of the McLaren-pioneered rear wing-stalling system at the last round as squads look to get the innovative full duct on their cars as soon as possible.
Williams ran some of the required components on Rubens Barrichello’s FW32 in Saturday morning practice in Shanghai, before reverting to its previous rear wing for qualifying, and its technical chief Michael says it remains very much a work in progress.
“We gathered some good data from the new parts so it proved to be a worthwhile test, but we still have some work to do which is why we took the decision not to run it in qualifying,” Michael said.
“I expect it will take us a couple of months to get it working properly.” Williams has yet to finish higher than eighth so far this season and appears to be behind both Renault and Force India in the midfield pecking order.
And while the last round in China was particularly disappointing for the team as it failed to make Q3 and then pick up any points on race day for the first time this season, Michael feels progress is being made given its fastest Q2 time was just 0.8s off the outright pace.
“Even though we didn't make the top ten in qualifying, Rubens’ pace was better than it has been previously, as demonstrated by the small gap between him and the quickest car,” Michael added.
“That was in spite of him being held up by [Jenson] Button, which cost him a tenth. Without traffic, he would have easily made it into the top 10, so we are getting closer.”
Michael, who added that Williams was looking to improve its qualifying performance, now hopes for a further step forward from next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
“Like all the teams, we will have a series of planned upgrades for the cars in Spain and we’re hoping they will deliver the performance that we need going into the European rounds,” he added.
On the topic of KERS Michael says his team is now in favour of it returning to Formula 1 next year after determining that the system can be cost-effective.
Amid continuing talks about using KERS again in the future, Michael states that Williams had was more inclined to put it on the back burner until the 2013 F1 rules overhual.
"[Waiting until 2013] was our position up to when Ferrari and Renault submitted a proposal to FOTA that they could do it for less than a million euros," Michael said.
"So our position now is we're doing KERS for 2011, and so is theirs."
Michael is supporting of the Ferrari/Renault proposal that makes KERS more viable than it was last season, when the major teams tossed in loads of cash to develop the technology, and then only a few ever raced with it.
"I wouldn't say that's incompatible with cost saving, because it's got to be less than a million euros, so that's quite different to spending money on a new engine development programme, for example," said Michael
"It's not like the KERS of old, when you were spending 10 to 20 million, or even more. It's [now] a million euros for the running costs."
Michael says Williams has always been in favour of the KERS concept, but has only wanted to make sure it was cost effective and contained.
"We're supportive of KERS at Williams, but our [original] position was that we would rather it was integrated properly in the 2013 engine," said Michael.
"It's something F1 can contribute to. A lot of road cars are going with KERS now, so it makes sense for F1 to have it. We thought '13 was a better introduction point, but we've got to go with the agreement that everyone signed, and that was if someone proved by the end of March that they could do it for a million euros, then they can."
"The attraction from my point of view is it makes the car go faster. If someone's got KERS then you can't afford not to have it. You're talking three or four tenths [per lap].
"It was quicker [to have KERS] by the end of last year. If you look at McLaren, in Ahu Dhabi they were very competitive until they had the brake failure, and that was with the old front tyre as well. Now with the narrow front tyre it will be even easier to make KERS work."
"If you didn't have power and energy limits it would be a different question, but you do," he said.