Korean Grand Prix Preview – AT&T Williams
AT&T Williams endured a tough weekend at Suzuka, its cars coming home in 14th (Pastor Maldonado) and 17th (Rubens Barrichello) places. Both drivers fought hard, but the deployment of the safety car before half distance put them on the back foot and ruined their chances of scoring points. Mark Gillan, the team’s new Chief Operations Engineer, gives us his thoughts.
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer:
Q: How would you sum up the performance of the FW33 at Suzuka?
MG: Nobody in the team is happy with the current performance of the FW33, and this weekend’s race in Suzuka was no exception. This was my first race in charge at the track and I’d like to thank the race team for their excellent effort and dedication throughout the weekend.
Q: Neither car completed its intended run plan on Friday. How did that affect the rest of the race weekend?
MG: We had a few problems in both P1 and P2 which hampered our test programme and precluded us from testing a couple of aerodynamic updates. However we did get information on a number of other test items which will feed into the development process for both this year’s car and the FW34.
Q: How critical was tyre wear at Suzuka?
MG: Tyre wear and degradation on both the prime and especially the option was very important throughout the weekend’s preparation for the race and the safety car played an important part in how teams adapted their strategies.
Q: Both drivers lost places at the start. Did they have any technical issues getting away from the line?
MG: Rubens lost three positions at the start and Pastor lost two positions. Rubens started on option tyres from the clean side of the grid and did have a problem which we now understand. Pastor, starting on the prime tyre from the dirty side of the grid, did not have a problem.
Q: How did the deployment of the safety car on lap 24 affect Rubens’ and Pastor’s races?
MG: We pitted Rubens on the first lap of the safety car as he was due to stop anyway but he lost quite a bit of time behind Kobayashi on primes when the safety car came in. A slow pitstop also dropped a place to Rosberg. Pastor started the race on a two-stop strategy and we initially left him out under the safety car in an attempt to gain track position, but after the lap 24 stops it was clear that this had not worked and we pitted him, dropping two positions.
Q: Pastor’s fastest lap was identical to Lewis Hamilton’s – 1:37.645. Do you take any encouragement from that?
MG: Pastor’s race balance on option tyres and low fuel during the last stint was reasonable but it is clearly evident that the overall pace of the car needs to dramatically improve and this is what we are all working hard to achieve – it will not be an overnight improvement but we do aim to see a steady continuous improvement and an integration of better processes through the remainder of this season and into next.
Q: Korea comes next, next weekend. What are you hopes for Yeongam?
MG: We need to establish a trouble-free weekend and give both drivers maximum lap-time to help optimise the car.