The AT&T Williams team is definitely having a rough start this year. After an encouraging pre-season testing, it seemed that the team was poised to improve their performance from 2010 andmotivation was high, but now frustration seems to be the most common feeling within.
Both of their drivers, the experimented Ruben Barrichello, and the F1 rookie, Pastor Maldonado, haven’t been able to finish a race, worse, not one of them have been able to cover half of a race distance.
The lack of accumulation of miles on race mode will put the team in a difficult situation, and it would make the learning curve about the Pirelli tyres, steeper if they want to catch up.
Most of the teams have had the chance to evaluate and analyze more data coming from the tyre wear and tear during the races. At Sepang, everyone witnessed the implications of tyre strategy and the pits stops over the results. It became even complicated to follow the race, as Jenson Button stated.
Adam Parr, the team Chairman commented: “We will move forward, but that does not alter the fact that we have started too far behind.”
Although the FW33 seem to deliver in aerodynamic terms, its early break down and reliability issues are tied to the mechanical and engineering sub-teams within Williams. During the last race at Malaysia, Rubens had a problem with his hydraulics caused by a differential leak, and Pastor had a misfire that came from the engine, initiated by-apparently- a faulty ignition coil.
In this particular Sam Michael, Technical Director says: “Ultimately the performance and reliability of the car is down to the engineering group and we’ll respond accordingly.“
Hopefully the team will try its best to fix the these problems to show a different and more competitive face at the Chinese Grand Prix, just a week away from Malaysia. It’s known that the FW33 has potential to often land up in the Q3 and even to fight for points.
The Chinese track will offer lower temperatures, and the tyres will not suffer as much, given the less aggressive track surface. There is a reasonably high chance of rain, which might finally give the Pirelli wet and intermediate tyres their debut.
In preparation for the Shanghai race, Williams will introduce new upgrades like a different exhaust system that will be put to work on Rubens car for Friday practice. Barrichello said: “We have an upgrade to the car this weekend which I hope will improve our speed and overall performance. It hasn’t been a good start to the season for us as we are yet to finish a race where we belong, but I’m hoping the upgrade will help us to move forward.”
The Brazilian did not seem very focus on the first race, where he made a couple of mistakes, but then at Sepang he did not have much of chance to show different. Most probably, things will change.
The Venezuelan and former Gp2 Champion, Pastor Maldonado, has shown some of its talent; but he hasn’t had the chance to really prove his worth. For sure, this reliability issues with the FW33 won’t last forever, so he better make the most out every opportunity so he earns some goodwill. Nevertheless, this time around it doesn’t look easy for Maldonado, since it will be his first hands-on experience with the circuit.
Maldonado: “China is a completely new track for me so I need to learn the layout”…. “I know there is a very short time between races, but I think we have the potential to improve and to become more competitive.” “I have had a day in our simulator in Grove to begin learning the circuit and now I’m really looking forward to getting there."