Dave Robson, the Head of Vehicle Performance at ROKiT Williams Racing, felt the opening pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was a promising one for the team, even if a few minor niggles and an engine problem cost them track time.
Whereas Williams missed the opening test of 2019 and struggled for performance thereafter, the team were ready to go from the green flag this season, with George Russell taking to the track as soon as the session got underway on Wednesday morning.
He went on to complete seventy-three laps before handing over the FW43 to his new team-mate Nicholas Latifi, who then completed an additional sixty-three laps on what Robson felt was an encouraging opening day of testing.
“A very promising start to the 2020 season for the team,” said Robson. “George was the first car on track this morning and spent the opening few hours collecting aero data in several different configurations.
“By mid-morning we were completing longer runs on different tyre compounds as we begin to understand the main characteristics of the FW43. Following a successful morning session, George ended his running, allowing Nicholas to take over for the afternoon.
“Nicholas completed a further sequence of longer new tyre runs, building on the work started by George this morning. In the evening we took the opportunity to collect another round of aero data.
“Overall, it has been a very encouraging day of reliable running of the FW43, which has been made possible by the hard work and collective effort of everyone at the track and back in Grove.”
‘We Achieved Almost Everything we had Intended to’ on Thursday – Robson
Russell was given the driving duties for the whole of day two on Thursday, with the 2018 FIA Formula 2 champion completing an impressive one hundred and sixteen laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Robson was pleased with the results of the day, with lap times significantly faster than anything they achieved at the circuit in 2019, even if red flags and some minor damage to the FW43 restricted Russell from doing even more laps.
“George drove the car today and took the opportunity to build on the work we undertook yesterday,” said Robson on Thursday. “We again started the day with aero work, constructing a programme based on yesterday’s findings.
“Once the track reached a more useful temperature, we started our new tyre work concentrating on more aero development and some tyre compound comparisons. Over lunch we elected to take some time to make some more involved changes before completing a further series of new tyre runs in the afternoon.
“We also found some minor damage to the rear of the car, which needed repairing before we could start the afternoon programme. Running was hampered a little by the late red flag, but nonetheless we achieved almost everything we had intended to.”
Engine Issues Cost Latifi and Williams Valuable Friday Track Time
Williams had planned to give Latifi a similar programme on Friday, but the Canadian was forced to stop on track with a power unit-related issue that brought out the red flags and necessitated an engine change.
Never-the-less, Robson was pleased with how the team reacted to the issues, with Latifi able to return to the track late in the day to resume his programme and go through a number of pit stop practices ahead of his race debut next month in Australia.
“Nicholas was back in the car today and we had a full programme planned for him,” Robson added. “Unfortunately, during the morning we saw something in the data which gave us concern over the power unit.
“A subsequent investigation meant we couldn’t get back on track until late in the afternoon. However, the mechanics did a great job of rebuilding the car to get us back out in time to complete some useful new tyre running.
“We were able to complete the day with a series of pitstops, which was a valuable experience for Nicholas and gave him an appreciation of how quick the stops will be once we get to the serious business of racing in Melbourne.”
Despite the final day setback, Robson feels the first test in Spain was very productive for Williams, and it is now time to analyse all the data and information they’ve gathered ahead of next week’s second and final test at the same circuit.
“We now have a few days to review the findings from this week before we start the final three days of testing ahead of the opening race of the season,” Robson concluded.
“We have a lot of work to do, but we have had a productive opening week with the new FW43 and are looking forward to evolving the performance next week.”