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Interview with Williams' Sam Michael 23 Jun 2009

Sam Michael (AUS) Williams Technical Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 April 2009 Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Practice Day, Silverstone, England, Friday, 19 June 2009 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 21 June 2009 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 21 June 2009 Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 20 June 2009

Williams may still be a way off returning to their championship-winning heydays, but the team have shown significant improvement in 2009 and are currently fifth in the constructors’ championship. Technical director Sam Michael is certainly pleased with progress. Here he reviews the British outfit's performance to date, looks back at last weekend’s Silverstone race and reveals why he won't be going on holiday ahead of next month’s German Grand Prix…

Q: Did the new parts on the FW31 perform as you'd hoped at Silverstone?
Sam Michael:
Yes, they did. We had some mechanical changes on the suspension at Silverstone and various aero updates. Testing during Friday’s practice sessions showed they all worked as we expected.

Q: How does the FW31 now compare to the opposition?
We’re currently in fifth place in the constructors’ championship having been promoted up the table for the third race in succession. That's what matters and that shows where the FW31 is. Race-by-race performance can fluctuate and we were competitive at Silverstone, but the measure for any team is their place in the constructors’ tables and we are presently fifth.

Q: How did the cool(ish) temperatures affect the pace of the FW31?
For us, the temperatures at Silverstone didn't have any real influence on our race. We would have preferred to have run the hard tyre throughout, but there wasn't a massive difference between the two.

Q: Kazuki Nakajima was quickest in Q1 and lined up in fifth place on the grid. Was the British Grand Prix a breakthrough weekend for him?
Kazuki has been continually improving since Barcelona and it's pleasing to see him helping to move the team forward. The major difference is that he is now contributing directly to the set-up process over a race weekend.

Q: Kazuki was fourth until his first pit stop, but he finished the race in 11th. Why did he lose so many positions?
Kazuki was on a shorter first stint than the other drivers because we had to do more laps in Q3 to get a lap time than we had planned to. Unfortunately, that then makes it critical to build up a good gap to the driver behind during the early part of the race, but Kazuki wasn’t able to get the gap we needed him to. That caused him to then fell behind the chasing pack in the second stint.

Q: Nico Rosberg finished the race only 0.8s behind Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. Were you disappointed not to get fourth, or even third, with him?
If we could have run at our true pace in the middle stint, Nico would have been racing Barrichello for third place. As we weren’t able to do that, Massa managed to catch Nico, even though he was slower than him. Massa then simply ran longer before the second pit stop and beat us.

Q: Looking ahead, there’s now a three week break in the calendar before Germany. Time for a holiday?
No! The whole team has already started to prepare for the Nurburgring and will continue to do so for the next few weeks.