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Korean Grand Prix Review – AT&T Williams

Rubens Barrichello led the way for AT&T Williams at the challenging Yeongam circuit, with a 12th place finish at the Korean Grand Prix. After a competitive start, Pastor Maldonado’s race was compromised by a drive-through penalty before a terminal engine issue brought his weekend to an early conclusion on lap 31. Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer, gives us his thoughts.

Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer:
Q: How would you sum up the performance of the FW33 at Yeongam?
MG: Running with the new aero package on both cars, our overall performance this weekend at Yeongam was slightly better than at Suzuka, with both drivers doing a good job throughout the weekend. The relative race pace, especially on Rubens’ final long stint on soft tyres was reasonable, but as previously mentioned our base pace needs to improve.  

Q: Two wet practice sessions on Friday left a lot of question marks over tyre wear. How confident were you about wear rates going into Sunday’s Grand Prix?
MG: Pirelli’s wear predictions are usually quite accurate but with the significant track evolution witnessed during third practice there were clearly concerns that the wear and degradation of the soft and super-soft tyres could be very different (i.e. better) to that predicted.

Q: Did the eventual life of the soft and the super-soft compounds surprise you?
MG: Both tyres performed better than expected and Rubens’ used the extra longevity of the soft tyre to good effect at the end of the race with a consistent pace to the end.

Q: Would you have switched Rubens to a two-stop strategy if there hadn’t been a safety car?
MG: Yes, that was a possibility.

Q: Pastor was given a drive-through penalty for a pitlane infringement. Can you explain what happened?
MG: The lap 16 deployment of the safety car was good timing for Pastor’s race strategy but unfortunately as he quickly reacted to the call to box he went around the outside of the bollard on entering the pitlane, triggering a drive-through.

Q: The inaugural Indian Grand Prix comes next. First, what can fans of AT&T Williams expect from the Buddh International Circuit?
MG: An amazing spectacle in an exciting new location – I’m really looking forward to the race.

Q: Second, how well do you expect the FW33 to perform there?
MG: I have previously stated that Williams need to show continuous improvement and that is what we need to deliver. The basic car specification and aerodynamic set-up will be similar to that in Yeongam.