Sam Michael reflects on Williams’ Turkish Grand Prix


As Formula 1 leaves Istanbul and prepares for the next race in Canada, Sam Michael, the Williams technical director, has been reflecting on the team’s performance in Istanbul.

The team left Turkey without scoring points. Rubens Barrichello finished 14th while Nico Hulkenberg could only manage 17th.

It was a difficult race for Williams, who were compromised by heavy damage sustained at the previous race in Monte Carlo. The number of parts that had to be manufactured for the two cars prior to Turkey meant that Williams had to revert back to their old front wing configuration.

“Running the old front wing cost us approximately one tenth per lap,” said Michael, “but it worked well in the high speed corners. We will have the next evolution of the front wing on both cars in Montreal next week.”

The team did run a new rear wing and rear brake ducts in Istanbul, upgrades which performed as prior tests had predicted.

However, reliability was an issue for the team throughout the weekend. On the Friday, Nico Hulkenberg’s race preparations were hampered by a hydraulic leak. “We lost about 45 minutes out of the afternoon session which certainly wasn't helpful when track time is at a premium,” explained Michael. “The mechanics did a really good job to recover the situation and get the car back out quickly, and we covered the majority of our scheduled programme.”

In addition to Hulkenberg’s problem during Friday practice, a clutch problem for Rubens Barrichello meant he lost five places off the grid, a problem that Sam Michael and the team are keen to avoid in the future: “The clutch bite on Rubens' car was stronger than we had anticipated taking into account the data from the practice starts undertaken earlier in the weekend. We have the clutches from both cars under investigation in the factory now to see what the problem was.”

The Williams technical director said that the performance of the Bridgestone tyres in Turkey was again very good, but Hulkenberg did have a problem with puncture after an altercation with the Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi, leaving him with a tricky tyre management issue for the remainder of the afternoon. “Nico picked up a puncture on one of his front tyres so we had to change the whole set,” said Michael. “Unfortunately, that meant a really long stint on the option tyre because he had started on the prime.”

The Canadian Grand Prix is on 13th June, and Michael thinks that the FW32 will be more competitive in Montreal than it was around Istanbul Park: “We will have some more aero parts for the cars which should improve our performance, as well as a couple of mechanical upgrades. We will also have the medium drag rear wings specific to this race.”