Exclusive interview - Williams' Alex Wurz 11 Jan 2007
Williams would no doubt prefer to forget last season. But with their new Toyota-powered FW29 due to launch on February 2, no one really believes the team has lost it - and certainly not new race driver Alexander Wurz. Promoted from his testing role, Wurz will make a welcome return to the grid in 2007. And after several positive pre-Christmas tests in the interim car, the Austrian cant wait to get his hands on the teams 2007 challenger
Q: The first stage of the winter test programme is over. How much can you conclude from these early sessions?
Alexander Wurz: Well, not too much to be honest, as winter testing often paints a very complex and difficult picture, that even full insiders can't really decipher. In any case, for us it was reliability that we were looking for.
Q: You were running with the teams interim car, the FW28B, which has run approximately 6,500 kilometres and three full-race simulations since September. Did the car impress you, especially now it is running with the Toyota engine?
AW: Well personally I was very impressed with our new gearbox. It worked instantly and faultlessly for the three full-race simulations. The engine was running equally well and the power and driveability put a smile on my face.
Q: 2006 was a mixed season for the team. Did the tests suggest that the gap to the front runners may be reduced this year?
AW: We tested with an interim car and, as I said before, the tests were mainly to check the new gearbox and engine configuration. In terms of pace it is difficult to say where we are, because I never ran with anything like a low fuel load, which I think some other teams did. Anyway, I know just too well that in the winter you get no points, which is a shame in a way, because I would have scored quite a few points over the last few years...
Q: Williams made the switch to Bridgestone tyres last season. Do you think that has given the team something of an advantage over those only making the switch now? Or is the new Potenza so different that everyone will start on an equal footing?
AW: A simple question without a simple answer. But broadly speaking I think that everyone started on more or less the same starting points. Maybe the new tyres are similar to the constructions that Bridgestone used two or three years ago, then it would only be Jordan-Midland-Spyker and Ferrari who would know a bit more. But no, I think its the same for everybody.
Q: New people have been brought in at the factory with the aim of pushing the team up the pecking order. Are these changes one of the reasons you believe Williams will be able to score more points - and perhaps even a podium or two - next season?
AW: Yes, you are right, exactly. But I think the good point is that the new guys come in to work along with the existing ones. Hopefully that way we get stronger and don't lose time with any transition phase.
Q: Why did Williams choose to test just one car at all three December tests? When testing resumes for the team on January 16 will the team still run just one car or are you switching to two?
AW: As far as I understand, in January, everyone is obliged to test with one car only, two car tests will only be allowed in February. And I dont know exactly why we only had one car in December, thats more a question for Frank (Williams), Patrick (Head) or Sam (Michael).
Q: Will you run the FW29 in January? Is the new car a more sophisticated version of FW28B or a totally different development?
AW: The new car should be ready to drive at the beginning of February. Thats also the time the two car tests are allowed, so thats when the interesting part of winter testing really kicks off. At the moment we keep testing with the 28B interim car, which of course is also very important.
Q: The team recently landed a high-profile sponsorship deal with AT&T. Apart from a new livery, are there any other tangible changes?
AW: We spoke about the changes in staff, and certainly it is a super thing that big companies like AT&T commit to the team. Also that other sponsors increased their co-operation and support. And to answer if any changes are tangible already, well, in my view Formula One is constantly changing, so the feelings and situations are changing every day or week. Its certainly very exciting and I would not mind if we start racing tomorrow, or even better, lets just do it now.