Q&A with Williams' Sam Michael
The Cosworth powered Williams Formula One team had a much stronger weekend in Valencia Spain when both drivers qualified in the top ten, and after both ran most of the race in the top ten, Rubens Barrichello crossed the line just one step away from the podium in fourth place.
Here the team’s technical director, Sam Michael, reviews the weekend and gives a brief glimpse at their home event, that will take place at the newly redeveloped Silverstone circuit in two weeks time.....The team took an impressive step forward in Valencia. Both FW32s got into Q3 and Rubens finished the race in fourth place. To what do you attribute the improved pace of the FW32?
The improved performance of FW32 was due to the whole car package, and perhaps the specific nature of the Valencia circuit that suited our car characteristics. While we are heading in the right good direction, we and our partners still have plenty more work to do.
How do you assess the performances of both AT&T Williams drivers over the weekend?
Both drivers did well. Nico stepped up his game in qualifying and that was good to see. Rubens delivered strongly in the race and made the very best of what he had at his disposal
Rubens raced the updated blown rear wing, but Nico didn’t. Why was that?
We had an installation issue with Nico's seat, but we'll have that sorted out for Silverstone. That said, the blown rear wing is still an R&D item, so it suited the team to have the cars split in Valencia. Given that we had some issues with the component during the race on Rubens car, it was the right call.
Cosworth introduced a step forward at this race. How much of an improvement was it?
As well as some other teams, we fitted new engines to both cars for the European Grand Prix. Cosworth are still on a rising curve with the engine and they've been working hard to find improvements within the engine homologation regulations. They are making good progress.
Nico was forced to retire from the race following an exhaust failure. Have you discovered the cause of the problem?
It was a cracked exhaust tailpipe. We are still investigating the cause, but we are really sorry that the failure deprived Nico when he was running well and in the points.
Nine drivers, including Rubens, were handed 5-second penalties after the race for breaching the Safety Car regulations. Do you think the Safety Car rules need clarifying?
In this regard the regulations probably need a review, rather than clarifying. From a personal perspective, I was in favor of the old system when you could duck and dive into the pits under the Safety Car in order to win advantage, but I also appreciate that the current rules are there to promote safety.
It’s AT&T Williams’ home race at Silverstone next. Are you confident that the team can maintain its form from Valencia?
We will have our new exhaust blown diffuser to improve the car performance by another step. Our target for the race is to finish both cars in the top ten.