Sam Michael Reflects On Williams’ Performance Down Under

by David Bean

Sam Michael, technical director for Williams, has been looking back over the team’s weekend at Albert Park, Melbourne, were Rubens Barrichello finished eighth and Nico Hulkenberg was victim of a crash on the opening lap.

Michael says that while Barrichello scored more points for the team, they still have ‘a lot of work to do to improve in all areas’. Barrichello followed an unusual tyre strategy in Melbourne, running intermediates tyres and then the hard Bridgestone compounds, while all the other drivers went for inters and the soft rubber. Sam Michael believes, looking back, they may have made a mistake. “We discussed it as a team and took the decision together. In hindsight, however, it probably wasn't the correct choice and we should have run the option tyre.”

After Hulkenberg retired from the race through no fault of his own, Michael offered support to his rookie driver. “Nico is a fast driver. He's still finding his feet as this is only his first season in Formula One. He's smart, and he knows what he has to do. I have 100% confidence in him delivering for the team.”

Turning to car development, the Williams technical director said that apart from a small problem for Hulkenberg in third practice, the FW32 had shown no reliability issues. The team also experimented with a new ‘shark’ engine cover on the Friday, but chose not to race with it. “We tested an extended engine cover fin but we didn't like the results it gave during practice so we reverted back to the standard bodywork for qualifying and the race. We haven't abandoned it; we will probably run it again at a race in the near future.”

Asked about the race as a whole, Michael explained why he though there had been much more overtaking than in Bahrain. “I think the fact that the start of the race was wet certainly helped. There were also some cars that were out of their normal performance positions as well (like Hamilton, Webber and Alonso), which helped shake things up a bit.”

The team now move on to this weekend’s race in Malaysia, and Sam is very clear about his hopes for Williams in Sepang. “We need to get both cars into the top ten in qualifying, that's our key target.”

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