After a double points finish for Williams at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, technical director Sam Michael has been reflecting on the improvements of the FW32 since the lacklustre results that characterised the beginning of their season.
“We are definitely making progress with the car, but we need to find a few more tenths if we are to regularly qualify in Q3,” he said, and also praised his rookie driver Nico Hulkenberg after he claimed his best ever Formula 1 finish with sixth place in Hungary: “Nico drove a solid race. He was on the correct tyre given the safety car situation, which was a result of him qualifying well on Saturday.”
Rubens Barrichello could only finish the grand prix in tenth, and Michael was asked whether he regretted not pitting the Brazilian when the safety car came out: “Not really, no,” replied Michael. “Our prime reason for not pitting Rubens when the Safety Car was deployed was to avoid doing 55 laps on the softer, Option tyre which, at that stage, we didn’t think would last for that amount of time.
“More importantly, if we had stacked both the cars in the pitlane, Nico would have significantly lost out. The strategy we chose maximised the points we collected.”
Barrichello was also involved in one of the talking points of the race. The most experienced driver in Formula 1 was attempting to take the most successful, his former teammate Michael Schumacher, when he was unnecessarily pushed to within a few centimetres of the pit wall by the German.
“From my perspective, Michael's move just proved to everyone how completely committed Rubens is!” was Sam Michael’s brief but supportive view of the incident.
Formula 1 now heads into its summer break, and each team is obliged to shut down their factory completely for two weeks, allowing their staff a much-deserved holiday. Williams’ holiday started from Sunday so that, when they return refreshed, the team will have the maximum preparation time for the Belgian Grand Prix.
Sam Michael is optimistic that Williams can carry their recent good form into the race at Spa. “The whole car package will be good there,” he said. “We should be able to run inside the top ten, as we’ve been doing recently.”