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Michael: Williams on top of aero issues 28 Apr 2005

Sam Michael (AUS) Williams Technical Director with Mark Webber (AUS) Williams in the background.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Practice, Imola, Italy, 22 April 2005

With four rounds of the season complete, Williams lie fifth in the constructors’ championship. Not that impressive by the team’s own high standards, perhaps. That is until you learn that the FW27 was designed with only a fraction of the intended wind-tunnel time.

Williams’ pre-season problems transferring data between their two wind tunnels were well publicised. In fact, the FW27 started the 2005 campaign having spent less than a third of the time the team had planned in the wind tunnel.

“We went through a difficult time with our wind tunnels over the winter,” technical director Sam Michael told Formula1.com. “Six months ago we had to shut down our original tunnel to bring on our new one and while that went through there were a lot of teething and commissioning problems.

“What it basically means is that the design of the FW27 was done with around 30 percent of the wind tunnel time that it should have had, which obviously has a massive effect on the final product.”

However, the team have since been working flat out to make up for lost time and Michael insisted their labours have already started to pay dividends, as witnessed by Nick Heidfeld’s podium finish in Malaysia.

“We've had to put a lot of effort into the development of the FW27 in the last six to eight weeks and that's been very good,” he said. “The car development has been very strong since the start of February and we've got a lot of new parts on the car and it's going a lot faster as a result.”

Michael admitted the team had been on the back foot last year, following their mid-season decision to drop their famous ‘walrus’ front wing, but said their new aerodynamics department was now bringing significant gains to the FW27.

“We headed in the wrong direction with the FW26 and its front end, and it really took us 12 months to recover from that,” he said. “The department's been restructured and the people in there are extremely motivated as well, they're all pushing hard, they're the right people as well - the ideas that we have going through the tunnel are now regularly being picked up by other teams as well.”

Look out for a full transcript of our exclusive interview with Sam Michael coming soon on formula1.com, including the Williams technical director on why they could currently run two races on one set of tyres, and why drivers Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld are no prima donnas.