Q&A with Williams' Sam Michael 21 Apr 2009
With Kazuki Nakajima retiring on Lap 44 and team mate Nico Rosberg finishing in 15th, the Chinese Grand Prix was a race to forget for Williams. However, technical director Sam Michael remains confident that the FW31 is one of the strongest cars on the grid and hopes its only a matter of time before the British team can capitalise on their package to enjoy better results
Q: Please sum up your feelings after the Chinese Grand Prix.
Sam Michael: Its wasnt our best performance. As a team, we made mistakes which we will be investigating this week at the factory before heading to Bahrain. We have a strong car at the moment and we really need to start capitalising on that and getting some points on the board.
Q: How accurate was your weather forecast? Were you expecting a fully-wet race?
SM: It was actually quite good. We had a link into the Chinese governments weather information on the pit wall which is updated every 15 minutes, and we also share a weather radar with the other teams so we have plenty of resource available to us to ensure that the forecast is accurate. We were therefore expecting it to be wet for the duration of the race.
Q: When running in clear air, how did the FW31 perform in the wet?
SM: It went well, evident by the lap times Nico was putting in.
Q: Why did Nico pit while behind the first safety car?
SM: We thought the safety car would stay out for a much longer time than it did so, if we had to pit late and the Renault and the two Red Bulls had already pitted, we would have ended up behind them. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the wrong call. The decision cost us a couple of positions but it wasn't the main reason why we didn't perform well in China. In the end, we were just too slow in the wet.
Q: Had it not rained late-on in the race, where do you think Nico could have finished on intermediates?
SM: The intermediates worked well for a few laps and it was starting to look like a really good decision, but then the rain increased slightly and that was enough to hand the advantage back to the drivers on the full wet tyres. We took a risk because we were out of the points anyway.
Q: Kazuki seemed to have several problems towards the end of the race, what were they?
SM: Kazuki had a right rear puncture and was then forced to stop as he had a gearbox problem. We have subsequently traced the problem to the differential.
Q: In dry conditions, were you pleased with the performance of FW31 around Shanghai?
SM: Our long run pace was really good, but we werent good enough in qualifying.
Q: What did you think of Bridgestone's dry-tyre compound selection?
SM: They are interesting to manage but overall they are ok.
Q: Looking ahead to Bahrain, how do you expect the FW31 to perform? Will the team have any development parts?
SM: The FW31 should work well in Bahrain so were looking forward to improving our performance.