Rubens Barrichello has been speaking about his first day of testing Williams latest F1 car – the FW33.
Despite a problem with the newly introduced KERS on the new model the Brazilian was pleased with his first experience of the 2011 challenger.
“We learnt a lot,” said Rubens. “It is a very different car to the FW32 and needs a different set-up and understanding. The balance of the car was difficult, but it's always hard to get a car to feel good on that amount of fuel. I will just have to work on it and see what we get back.
“Unfortunately, we lost a bit of time yesterday due to a problem with the KERS, but we kept going out to build up mileage. It was all positive; the only drawback from the day is that the number of buttons on the steering wheel can distract you from the driving.”
This potential issue with the number of buttons each driver now has to deal with – increased thanks to KERS and the new driver-adjustable rear-wings – has been a hot topic of discussion this week. Will the drivers’ be able to cope with being so busy pressing button at a twisty track like Singapore?
“I don't think it's a danger, but I think it's a concern,” said Barrichello, when the idea of too many buttons being dangerous was suggested to him. “In terms of execution, the additional controls are obviously necessary, but people have different steering wheels, so drivers may therefore be able to reach some buttons easier than others.
“The problem is you are taking your eye off the road. There is not a single straight where I don't press a button and change gear. In my role in the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) we will keep talking about this, but I think the FIA will let us practice a little more. I think the strong comments will come now but will lessen as people get used to things.”
In addition to extra switches and buttons on the steering wheel, drivers will also have to cope with understanding new tyre compounds as Pirelli become the official tyre supplier to Formula 1. Barrichello has mixed views on this new rubber:
“I ran the medium tyre for most of yesterday,” he explained. “They seem quite hard which is causing us to slide around a bit too much, but the soft compound seems to be fine.”
Also new for Barrichello this season is his team-mate. Reigning GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado replaces Nico Hulkenberg this season, but Barrichello is comfortable with having another rookie sitting on the other side of the Williams garage.
“If I needed more experience then maybe it would be a problem, but right now I have 19 years' experience in Formula One, so it is nice to have someone that will push me in terms of speed,” said the 38-year-old. “I think from everything we have seen he is good enough to do that.”
Overall, Barrichello seems quite content at Williams. He feels that his contributions are valid and that the team have produced a good car for 2011.
“Since I joined the team last year, the structure has definitely improved,” he said. “They seem to have done a great job this year; the car is beautiful and the rear is fantastic.
“Williams has been listening to me all the way and I am having a good time with them. Now we just have to prove that this is a good car; good enough to bring us all we should have.”