Sam Michael, the Williams technical director, has been looking back over the events of last weekend in Brazil, where Nico Hulkenberg claimed the team’s first pole position since 2005.
“His performance was exceptional,” Michael said, evaluating Hulkenberg’s qualifying on the drying Interlagos track. “It was great to see him do everything right on the slick tyre at the correct time. He didn’t put a foot wrong and warmed the tyres up perfectly to generate the grip he needed for the lap time.”
Unfortunately for the team, Saturday was the peak, and the race yielded just four points as Hulkenberg finished eighth and teammate Barrichello finished outside the top ten. “It would be reasonable to say that we expected more,” said Michael, when asked if Hulkenberg’s finishing position was a better reflection of the team’s pace in Brazil.
“It was clear to us that we didn’t have the pace to match the top three teams, but we expected to be fighting for 6th & 7th positions. Unfortunately we just weren’t quick enough in the first stint with Nico and we also had the pit stop problem with Rubens that put him out of contention. However, Nico did a good job to move us up in the Constructors' table to sixth.”
At one point during the race it looked as though Barrichello would pick up some points at this home race, but a longer-than-expected pit stop for the Brazilian, followed by a tangle with the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari meant that he could finish no higher than fourteenth.
“We had a problem with the wheel nut engagement [in the pit stop],” explained Michael. “We are still looking into the problem and although we don't have a definitive answer yet, we will ensure it is rectified for this weekend.”
This weekend is the season finale in Abu Dhabi where Williams are expecting a battle with Force India as both teams target sixth place in the constructors’ championship. “We remain pretty confident and we are sure the car performance will be good,” said Michael of the teams chances. “Our target is to maintain sixth position in the Constructors' Championship.”