What a difference a year can make… This time last year Williams Racing were experiencing possibly the lowest point of their time in Formula 1 as they trailed the pack at the back of the field. Fast-forward to 2020 and rookie Nicholas Latifi drove the FW43 around Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya 160 times on his way to the fourth fastest time of the day.
With overnight rain drenching the circuit it was a slow start to the day for most teams, meaning that time would have to be made up throughout the rest of the day to complete the programme for the day.
Latifi explained, “Overall it was a positive day and I got to experience the car in both trims that you would in a race weekend. We focused our morning on performance runs and I was finally able to feel the limits of the car.
“Unfortunately, the track conditions this morning hampered our running, and from that point of view our performance simulations weren’t as representative as I would have liked.”
Despite the disruptions of the morning, the Canadian got his head down and set about recording the most laps of any driver on day 5 of testing.
“In the afternoon we moved on to conducting our race simulations and I was able to get a lot of laps on the board.
“I think today went well, we had no issues and I was able to make up for the lost mileage from the previous days. This was the last time I will have had the chance to drive the car, I am looking forward to arriving in Melbourne and making my Formula 1 Grand Prix debut with the team.”
Productive day as lap total hits 160
While Williams have been battling with reliability issues on the Mercedes engine on previous day, aside from the weather it was plain sailing for the team.
“Today Nicholas completed his in-car preparation ahead of the start of the new race season,” explained Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance. “He enjoyed a productive day, completing 160 laps despite the damp start and the red flags.
“We were able to complete some more setup work, building on the data that we have been gathering since Wednesday of last week. We then pushed the car a little harder using the softest of the 2020 Pirelli compound range.
“After lunch we were able to complete some higher fuel running, giving Nicholas some valuable experience of managing the C2 and C3 compounds, which, respectively, will be the prime and option compounds in Australia, and the option and qualifying compounds when we return to Barcelona in May. There was time at the end of the day to give the pit crew some useful live pitstop practice.
“The car and PU behaved well today, and we were able to make the most of the reliability to push the car a little harder. We aim to continue this progress tomorrow when George joins us again for his final day in the car before we head to Australia.”