Q&A with Williams' Rod Nelson 15 Sep 2009
The Italian Grand Prix was a washout for Williams. With neither driver making it through to the second phase of qualifying, Sunday's race was bound to be a tough prospect, and Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Rosberg only managed 10th and 16th-place finishes respectively. Rod Nelson, the team's chief operations engineer, reflects on the Monza event and explains why they found it so difficult...
Q: Monza turned out to be the team's least competitive showing of the year. Why was this?
Rod Nelson: The majority of circuits throughout the season are considered to be high downforce tracks. Spa is a medium downforce track due to its combination of long straights and high speed corners while, with its long straights and mainly low speed corners, Monza is the only low downforce circuit on the calendar. We therefore consider that our resources are better placed concentrating on aero development for the higher downforce tracks. It is also one of the circuits where KERS can give a significant advantage and we do not have our KERS online at present.
Q: Did Nico and Kazuki have similar handling issues at Monza?
RN: The two drivers were quite evenly matched throughout the weekend and had similar issues with their car. The low downforce levels that you have to run at Monza presented us with ride and braking problems, but that is normal. Overall, they were both reasonably satisfied with the compromises that we had to make with chassis set-up.
Q: Were there any tyre-related problems during the course of the weekend?
RN: As is usually the case at Monza, the tyres have quite a hard time mainly due to the sustained lateral acceleration in Parabolica. Most people tend to go for a one stop race as it's the fastest strategy which means the tyres run for a longer period than usual and on heavier fuel loads. Having said that, however, we didn't have any major issues with our tyres this weekend.
Q: Kazuki out-qualified Nico for the third time this year. Please sum up his performance at Monza.
RN: Kazuki went to Monza very well prepared. In fact, he underperformed during his second run in Q1 because of traffic and just missed out on Q2 by six hundredths of a second. He had a reasonable start and managed to get past both Grosjean and Glock on the first lap, followed by Trulli on the second lap. Despite some robust challenges, he held position and did a good job in the race.
Q: Nico made an unscheduled pitstop on lap four of the race. Why was this?
RN: One of Kazuki's rear wing endplates was damaged by another car on the first lap of the race and the broken piece was left on the track in Turn Three. Ironically, another driver ahead of Nico drove over the debris a few laps later. It flicked up and became stuck in Nico's front wing and that cost him a lot of downforce. Nico thought the problem was a puncture so he pitted to change tyres.
Q: We go to Singapore next. How do you expect the FW31 to perform there?
RN: I am hopeful that we will be back up there again. We'll have some new aero upgrade parts on the cars and we hope we will be back scoring points on a regular basis for the last four races of the year.