Interview with Williams’ Sam Michael
Williams endured a frustrating Sunday afternoon in Germany, with Rubens Barrichello retiring due to an oil seal problem as Pastor Maldonado took the checkered flag in 14th place. Technical Director Sam Michael talks through the race.
The team took various upgrades to the Nürburgring. What were they and how did they perform?
We took a new front wing to Germany which we raced on Rubens’ car. We also took a new rear wing, but we had a structural issue during Friday practice so we decided not to race with it. We will have that new rear wing again in Budapest to test again. We also had some suspension upgrades at the Nürburgring, but we also didn’t race these as we will do further testing with them in Hungary.
With rain forecast for Sunday, did you set up either FW33 with a wet race in mind?
No, the forecast wasn’t showing a high enough chance of rain when we had to decide our setup on Saturday.
Rubens qualified and raced without KERS. Why was that?
We wanted to do a race weekend without KERS on one car to see the effect it had on tire degradation due to the engine braking maps that we have to run. Obviously there is also a weight trade-off with KERS, so by not running it you gain a lot of ballast.
Have you established the cause of the oil leak that put Rubens out of the race?
Yes, it was a rear main oil seal. We had to stop to avoid damaging the engine.
How did the cold weather conditions affect tire performance on race day?
We struggled to get the optimum tire performance in the cold temperatures throughout the weekend. That was still evident on Sunday.
Pastor was the first driver to switch to the Prime (harder compound) tire, on Lap 35. Why did he make that change so early?
Our wear rate was too high on the Option (softer compound) tire as we were planning to try and get to at least Lap 40. Although the Prime tire was not as good, the strategy really fell down because of the traffic and blue flags we had to deal with during the those critical laps between Pastor’s pit-stop and the pit-stops of those he was fighting against.
The Hungarian Grand Prix comes next. Are you expecting more performance from the FW33 in hotter conditions?
Yes. We have new bodywork that changes our cooling regime significantly. This is something that, as well as helping the FW33 diffuser, will also be good information for the FW34 (2012 car) design.