Sam Michael Q&A: Williams targeting more points 30 Jun 2010
From ninth on the Valencia grid to a fourth-place finish, Williams Rubens Barrichello - and his FW32 - enjoyed a very strong European Grand Prix. And although Nico Hulkenbergs race ended prematurely, he had also been running in the top ten in the second Williams. Overall it was a successful outing for the British team, and Sam Michael, Williams technical director, is confident they will be equally competitive at the forthcoming Silverstone race
Q: The team took an impressive step forward in Valencia. Both FW32s got into Q3 and Barrichello finished the race in fourth place. To what do you attribute the improved pace of the FW32?
SM: The improved performance of FW32 was due to the whole car package, and perhaps the specific nature of the Valencia circuit that suited our car characteristics. While we are heading in the right direction, we and our partners still have plenty more work to do.
Q: How do you assess the performances of both Williams drivers over the weekend?
SM: Both drivers did well. Nico stepped up his game in qualifying and that was good to see. Rubens delivered strongly in the race and made the very best of what he had at his disposal
Q: Barrichello raced the updated blown rear wing, but Hulkenberg didnt. Why was that?
SM: We had an installation issue with Nico's seat, but we'll have that sorted out for Silverstone. That said, the blown rear wing is still an R&D item, so it suited the team to have the cars split in Valencia. Given that we had some issues with the component during the race on Rubens car, it was the right call.
Q: Cosworth introduced a step forward at this race. How much of an improvement was it?
SM: As well as some other teams, we fitted new engines to both cars for the European Grand Prix. Cosworth are still on a rising curve with the engine and they've been working hard to find improvements within the engine homologation regulations. They are making good progress.
Q: Hulkenberg was forced to retire from the race following an exhaust failure. Have you discovered the cause of the problem?
SM: It was a cracked exhaust tailpipe. We are still investigating the cause, but we are really sorry that the failure deprived Nico when he was running well and in the points.
Q: Nine drivers, including Barrichello, were handed five-second penalties after the race for breaching the safety car regulations. Do you think the safety car rules need clarifying?
SM: In this regard the regulations probably need a review, rather than clarifying. From a personal perspective, I was in favour of the old system when you could duck and dive into the pits under the safety car in order to win advantage, but I also appreciate that the current rules are there to promote safety.
Q: Its Williams home race at Silverstone next. Are you confident that the team can maintain its form from Valencia?
SM: We will have our new exhaust blown diffuser to improve the car performance by another step. Our target for the race is to finish both cars in the top ten.