Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer, Williams F1 Team

24 July 2012

After promising much, the German Grand Prix proved difficult for the Williams F1 Team. Pastor Maldonado started sixth and came home in 15th place, two positions ahead of Bruno Senna, who’d been forced to pit at the end of lap one. Chief Operations Engineer Mark Gillan talks us through a frustrating weekend for the team.

Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer:
Q: There was very little dry running during practice and qualifying. How did that impact on the performance of the Williams Renault FW34 during the dry race?

MG: The lack of dry running meant that all teams had less information than what we would typically like to have regarding the option and prime tyres’ performance on longer, high fuel runs. We had to base a number of strategic decisions for the race from both historical circuit data and how the medium and soft tyres have performed throughout this season.

Q: How did the soft and medium compound tyres perform during the race? Some teams complained of blistering; was it a problem the FW34 suffered from?
MG: Our tyres performed well and as expected in Germany. Most teams suffered blisters at this race but the Pirelli pace is rather insensitive to the blisters, so small levels of blistering are not really that much of an issue.

Q: Given that Pastor was fastest in the wet during FP2, was the team expecting more from Saturday’s wet qualifying session than sixth with his car?
MG: Wet conditions are extremely difficult for both the team and driver to manage. Pastor was very strong in FP2 and was consistently quick in qualifying. Given the poor track conditions we were happy with his sixth position.

Q: Pastor said after the race that some debris affected the aero performance of his car during the middle stint. Can you tell us more about the problem?
MG: Pastor was very unlucky. Before the incident he had good pace and was very happy with the car balance. Then at Turn 5 on lap 12 he ran over a large piece of carbon fibre debris which was sitting on the middle of the track which damaged a number of aerodynamic components down the left hand side of the car. The substantial loss in downforce meant that the car balance was adversely affected and this impacted on the tyre performance and his ultimate car pace.

Q: Bruno got a puncture on the opening lap. How did completing nearly a whole lap on three wheels damage his car, and can you tell us about Bruno’s race performance thereafter?
MG: On the way back to the pits with a flat front-left tyre the leading edge of the floor was damaged, as was the front wing. At the stop we changed the front wing. Bruno’s subsequent pace was good, especially considering the level of floor damage that he was carrying.

Q: The Hungarian Grand Prix comes next. Williams F1 has won the race seven times before; how do you expect the FW34 to perform this year?
MG: We expect to be strong and really want to deliver a good result.

Q: How important is it for the team to enter the four-week summer break on the back of a strong result next weekend?
MG: In order to maintain momentum through the summer break it is important that we come away from Budapest with a good result. As always we are aiming to get both cars home in the points and give the team another ‘lift’ going into the factory shutdown period.