Q and A with Sam Michael, Williams F1 Technical Director

Ever-changing track conditions turned the Hungarian Grand Prix into a lottery. Unfortunately, both AT&T Williams drivers lost out in the excitement, making five trips each to the pits, and they came home in 13th and 16th places. Technical Director Sam Michael gives his assessment of the team’s performance.

Sam Michael, Technical Director:
Q: How would you sum up the performance of the FW33 at the Hungaroring?
SM: We have improved since the Nürburgring with some changes we made to the car. That was evident from our dry laptimes but we just didn’t pull it together to get points in the race.

Q: How was the car’s tyre wear on the soft and super-soft rubber?
SM: Our wear rate on the supersoft options was high but on the soft prime tyre it was good.

Q: Both drivers made places away from the line. Did the clean side of the grid help them, or has the team improved its starts?
SM: There was not a great deal of difference between the left and right sides of the grid due to the wet weather. Although our starts were good, both drivers then handled the first lap of the race well.

Q: Rubens lost part of his front wing early in the race. What was that part and how did it impact on performance?
SM: Rubens’ front wing end plate was damaged early on and that degraded badly during the race. It was certainly not good for performance, but we chose not to change it in the early stages of the race because of the additional time loss that would have resulted in us losing the chance to score any points.

Q: Pastor was given a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane at his first pitstop. A technical glitch, or driver error?
SM: It was driver error. He didn’t push the pit limiter button in time which resulted in him receiving the penalty.

Q; Both drivers stopped for inters on lap 50, only to stop again several laps later for dries. Talk us through that strategy call.
SM: The track reached a level of humidity where both drivers called for intermediate tyres. It was raining, but within two laps it started to ease off so it turned out to be the wrong call.

Q: The four-week summer break comes next. How much work can the team do during that time?
SM: We have a two week shutdown now but after that we will prepare for Spa-Francorchamps.

Q: The Belgian Grand Prix is the next race on the calendar. What are your hopes for the FW33 at Spa-Francorchamps?
SM: We have some new aero parts, front and rear wings plus some suspension updates for Belgium.