Q and A with Williams' Sam Michael
The Williams Formula One team achieved their goal in the recent Abu Dhabi grand prix, the 2010 season finale, when they finished ahead of their closest rivals, Force India, to secure sixth place in the constructors championship. Here the team’s technical director, Sam Michael, reviews the weekend and explains just why the sixth placed finish was so crucial....
How important was it for AT&T Williams to take sixth place in the constructors’ championship, ahead of Force India?
Of course we want to do our best at every race because that's the business we're in. However, it's also important to consolidate your position in the constructors’ championship because it is has a direct bearing on the FOM income you receive for the following season. Retaining sixth was therefore very important.
How would you sum up the performance of the FW32 at Yas Marina last weekend?
We had good qualifying pace, but we didn't score points in the race. Our target from the outset was pretty clear; to cover Force India, even if it meant losing points to other teams in the top 10.
Rubens seemed unhappy with the handling of his car during Friday practice, yet he qualified seventh. What changes did you make to his car to facilitate this?
Circuit conditions proved difficult for all of the drivers because the track was very green on Friday which resulted in a lot of tire graining. Once that starts, it's difficult to do any proper set-up work because you have to concentrate on tire management. Fortunately, things started to improve by Saturday. We also tuned the rear wing level which helped to improve our pace.
Nico was a second slower than Rubens in Q2. What were his issues with the car?
Nico was pretty close to Rubens during the practice sessions, and up until that point in Q2. We couldn't find any problems with the car, so it's likely that we just struggled to get that set of tires into the right window.
Some drivers struggled to make the option tire last during the race, while others completed long, consistent stints with it. What was the tire degradation like on the FW32?
The option was quite good. It was a solid tire for us in the race.
Overall, how would you sum up the performance of the FW32 throughout 2010?
We had a poor start to the year, but we started to turn it around just before the half way mark. We have a good understanding of the car now and that should enable us to carry the momentum into 2011.
Were you pleased with the performances of the drivers this year?
Yes, both drivers have done a good job for the team and we’re pleased with the contribution they’ve made over the year.
Finally, what do you think of Sebastian Vettel's world title success?
All of the drivers in contention for the title made mistakes and suffered reliability problems at certain points over the course of the season, so Sebastian deserves the title. Congratulations to him and to Adrian Newey for producing the championship winning car.