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Williams' worst weekend? 03 Jul 2005

Mark Webber (AUS) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, 3 July 2005

Even before the French race began the Williams team knew that, following BMW's purchase of Sauber, they were going to have to work hard to ensure a supply of competitive engines for next year.

But at Magny-Cours the team endured one of their worst weekends in living memory as both Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld struggled to find pace during practice and qualifying - then suffering from mechanical maladies during the race itself.

A poor qualifying performance saw Webber and Heidfeld in P13 and P14 respectively, with Webber finding himself promoted to P12 after Raikkonen's engine-change penalty dropped him to 13th.

It was a short-lived advantage. The red lights had barely gone out before Raikkonen passed Webber with a brilliant start, relegating the Australian to P13 before he had even crossed the start/finish line for the first time.

Things didn't get any better as the race went on. Webber found himself suffering from excessive cockpit heat, believed to be transmitted from the skid-blocks on the underside of the chassis - it was so bad that he was having water poured down the back of his seat during pitstops in an attempt to cool him down. He ended the race exactly where he had started it - in 12th place, two laps down on leader Alonso and with only team mate Heidfeld and the two Jordans finishing behind him. He also received medical treatment for a burn.

Heidfeld had an even worse time of it, finding himself battling with seriously unbalanced handling that forced him to make no fewer than six pitstops for the team to attempt to solve things. They didn't manage it, and although he survived to the end of the race, the German's eventual 14th place but him one position down on Tiago Monteiro's Jordan.

Williams' lack of pace is particularly surprising considering the team's strong performances earlier in the season, including taking both second and third at Monaco and Heidfeld's strong drive to second at the Nurburgring. This was the team's worst weekend since Canada last year, when both their cars were disqualified for irregular brake ducts.