Williams’ Rubens Barrichello got his first taste of the team’s 2011 car on Tuesday. Among the numerous changes on the FW33 is the addition of two new steering wheel buttons - one for KERS and one for the adjustable rear wing. Barrichello discusses his first impressions of the new car - and how drivers will cope with so many cockpit controls…
Q: How did your first day in the FW33 go? Rubens Barrichello: We learnt a lot. It is a very different car to the FW32 and needs a different set-up and understanding. The balance of the car was difficult, but it’s always hard to get a car to feel good on that amount of fuel. I will just have to work on it and see what we get back. Unfortunately, we lost a bit of time yesterday due to a problem with the KERS, but we kept going out to build up mileage. It was all positive; the only drawback from the day is that the number of buttons on the steering wheel can distract you from the driving.
Q: Do you think having more buttons on the steering wheel will make racing more dangerous, particularly at circuits like Singapore? RB: I don’t think it’s a danger, but I think it’s a concern. In terms of execution, the additional controls are obviously necessary, but people have different steering wheels, so drivers may therefore be able to reach some buttons easier than others. The problem is you are taking your eye off the road. There is not a single straight where I don’t press a button and change gear. In my role in the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) we will keep talking about this, but I think the FIA will let us practice a little more. I think the strong comments will come now but will lessen as people get used to things.
Q: How did the new Pirelli tires feel? RB: I ran the medium tire for most of yesterday. They seem quite hard which is causing us to slide around a bit too much, but the soft compound seems to be fine.
Q: Current GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado joins the team this season, how does it feel having another rookie driver as a team mate? RB: If I needed more experience then maybe it would be a problem, but right now I have 19 years’ experience in Formula One, so it is nice to have someone that will push me in terms of speed. I think from everything we have seen he is good enough to do that.
Q: This time last year Williams was focusing on a new partnership with Cosworth. Now the partnership is established, do you think the team has been able to concentrate more on the car? RB: Since I joined the team last year, the structure has definitely improved. They seem to have done a great job this year; the car is beautiful and the rear is fantastic.
Q: How much has the team evolved around you since you joined? RB: Williams has been listening to me all the way and I am having a good time with them. Now we just have to prove that this is a good car; good enough to bring us all we should have.
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