This season has been a promising one for Williams Racing, they may have finished last in the constructors championship this season, but the improvement shown this year has been astronomical for the Grove based team perhaps matched only by McLaren F1 Team (in terms of improvement shown.)
As well as looking towards the future in terms of car development, Williams also have four talented drivers enlisted to their Driver Academy and Tuesday’s test was a chance for two of their young driver’s to test in the FW43, Reserve Driver Jack Aitken and development driver Roy Nissany.
Although conditions during the heat of the day in Abu Dhabi may be un-representative of the usual afternoon and evening sessions at a standard race weekend, both drivers were able to gain some valuable time in the car on top of previous experience. Dave Robson head of vehicle performance at Williams also cited another reason why the test was so useful of the team.
“After a tricky season, it was good to finish with a productive and smooth day,” said Robson. “Both Jack and Roy have driven the car several times this year, but for both to get a chance to have the car for a full day in the calm environment of a Young Driver Day was very valuable for everyone.
“Conditions can be a little different during the Abu Dhabi day than in the afternoon and evening sessions at the race weekend, but nonetheless, it was good, valuable and representative running. Both drivers did an excellent job, enjoyed themselves and gained some very useful experience, which will help them to make increasingly valuable contributions to the car development programmes.
“As well as giving an opportunity to our young drivers, it also gives us a chance to rotate some of the engineers and mechanics, which increases our overall experience level and helps us motivate and train people for the next steps in their careers. With the prospect of longer seasons in the years ahead, this additional training is vital.
Development driver Roy Nissany, who recently finished in 19th place in the Formula 2 Championship, had three free practice appearances for Williams during the year, but this was Nissany’s first full day of testing with the FW43 and he was able to understand setup changes, improving his driving in the process.
“It is always nice to jump back in the car and today was amazing,” said Nissany. “In contrast to the FP1s, it was a full day with lots of kilometres logged, lots of learning, lots of understanding of the car – a great experience.
“It was also a challenge in terms of the development, and in terms of understanding a few mechanical changes. Overall, I am happy with my performance, and I think the team is as well. It was a great way to end the year. I will take all the conclusions, go deep into the data and spend the winter analysing it all.“
Nissany finished almost two seconds off team-mate for the day Aitken, and in the eyes of some he will need to improve. However, should he get enough points to earn a Superlicence, he is likely to bring substantial backing, something that low budget teams like would Williams need.
Aitken, who is currently serving as a reserve driver for the British team and recently made his F1 debut in the Sakhir Grand Prix, was delighted to be given the opportunity and was able to improve his knowledge of the car outside of the pressures of a grand prix weekend.
“It was a really good day, and I had lots of fun, but I wish we had more tyres to play with!” said Aitken. “We got through a nice programme, I got plenty of laps and we had no major issues which is always nice.
“There were a few things that we went into more detail with that we didn’t have time to in Bahrain. It was nice to go through some of the procedures and really knuckle down in more detail on some things which is a luxury. It was a nice way to end the year and thanks again to Williams for the opportunity.”