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Q&A with Williams' Sam Michael 22 Sep 2009

Sam Michael (AUS) Williams Technical Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 11 July 2009 Nico Rosberg and Williams' technical director Sam Michael discuss settings (L to R): Patrick Head (GBR) Williams Director of Engineering with Sam Michael (AUS) Williams Technical Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Practice Day, Silverstone, England, Friday, 19 June 2009 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 26 July 2009

Although Williams struggled at the recent Italian Grand Prix, they had enjoyed strong outings in the preceding European rounds, with two fourth-place finishes for driver Nico Rosberg. As the British team head further afield for this weekend’s Singapore race, technical director Sam Michael reflects on the outfit's recent highs and lows, and looks ahead to 2010…

Q: Williams scored points in all but one of the European races. How satisfied were you with the team’s performance?
Sam Michael:
We were quite good in terms of consistency and pulled in a lot of points. The only exception was Monza, where the car was uncompetitive, but we expected that because we hadn’t put a lot of effort into our low drag aerodynamic configuration. We chose to focus our development on the high downforce tracks that make up 90 percent of the calendar and that decision cost us last time out, but we didn’t lose any ground to our nearest rivals in the championship.

Q: Which have been the team’s best races in Europe?
SM:
They’ve all been pretty good, except for Italy. The races that stand out are Germany and Hungary, where Nico finished fourth, but Istanbul, Silverstone and Valencia were good as well.

Q: How much has Nico impressed you this year?
SM:
He’s been doing a good job and driving really well. This has been his most impressive season since he started driving for Williams in 2006; he’s shown he’s a capable driver and worthy of a place in the team.

Q: What sort of job has Kazuki Nakajima done for you so far this year?
SM:
He’s had a frustrating year because he’s done a better job than in 2008, but he’s yet to score any points. He deserves to have some points to his name and if he had just half the points of Nico, we’d be in a much stronger position in the constructors’ championship as well. But F1’s very close this year and a 0.3s gap to Nico in qualifying places Kazuki a lot further back on the grid than it did last year.

Q: What can we expect from Williams at Singapore this weekend?
SM:
Singapore sees Formula One return to a maximum downforce street track. The FW31 has been good on this type of track already this year, so I hope we’ll be back in the points on Sunday.

Q: There’s been a lot of speculation in the press about Williams’ engine supply for 2010. What can you tell us about it?
SM:
It’s definitely going to be a 2.4-litre V8, but I can’t say much more than that! All the engines on the grid are pretty similar in terms of power and weight, although fuel consumption will take on added significance next year with the ban on refuelling. I hope we’ll be able to announce our plans soon.

Q: Is Williams continuing to develop KERS for 2010?
SM:
We fully support the use of KERS and always have done. Given the environmental and sustainability pressures that Formula One is going to face in the future, KERS is a positive step for the sport. It’s in next year’s regulations, so we’re continuing developing our system with a view to using it on next year’s FW32.