Promising track debut for Williams FW26 06 Jan 2004
Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher got their first taste of the Williams FW26 on Monday when they completed the new car's maiden laps at the Valencia circuit in Spain following its official launch.
Montoya was the first man out in the Spanish afternoon sunshine, completing 14 laps of the 4.005 km track in the radical-looking new car, which features an unusual snub nose and front wing design.
"My first impression of the FW26 is very good," said the Colombian. "The car doesn't feel a lot different from last year's, which is a very good start and I think we have an excellent potential car. I felt comfortable straight away and could push the car from the outset, so thanks us due to the team for having built a very promising car.
"In spite of the restrictions imposed by the new rules, which give you less drag and make the car more difficult under braking, everything feels just right. The dusty track conditions were not 100% ideal today and we only completed six hard laps, so I don't want to sound too optimistic, but there isn't a single area that doesn't work. I am very, very pleased, I think this car has got a good future."
Taking over from Montoya, Schumacher then put another three laps on the new car. "It is always positive if the first day runs according to plan and I can say that the car feels good, perhaps similar to the FW25," he commented.
"I really have high expectations of the radical approach taken to this new car. Of course the roll out on launch day does not tell us much about the true performance of a new car and I only completed three laps. Basically it is all about installation laps and system checks, so it is far too early to make serious comments about the FW26."
The Williams team will be continuing their testing programme from January 7 to 13 in Jerez. Test driver Marc Gene will be present all days except 10, Montoya 7-10, and Schumacher 10-13.
See also: Williams unveil radical looking FW26