Williams aiming for the next level
Williams enjoyed a strong start to the season with Nico Rosberg notching up 25.5 of his eventual 34.5 points in the first ten rounds of the championship. The team - along with Brawn and Toyota - got the jump on their rivals at the start of the year by running the double diffuser concept, something later adopted by the rest of the field.
However, the latter stages of the season saw Williams drop down the championship table to finish in seventh position overall, a fact not lost on technical director Sam Michael as the team look to make gain in 2010.
“2009 was a good step forward from where we’ve been in previous seasons, particularly from an aerodynamic perspective and in terms of consistency of the car across different tracks,” he said. “It was a very competitive season this year with only a second covering the field at some races, so it was also satisfying when we were getting an extra one or two tenths out the car at those tracks. Overall, this year was a good step forward, but we didn’t end it where we wanted to be.”
Rosberg is off to either Brawn or McLaren next season while Kazuki Nakajima has been dropped by the team following the decision to move from Toyota engines to Cosworth. With the FW32 in development and with Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg joining the team, Michael remains bullish over the team’s chances in 2010.
“It’s a big aero race over the winter to see how much downforce you can add and drag you can take off,” he explained. “It’s also a matter of optimising all the different design parts and mechanical development as well. Both are areas of intense activity at the moment and we’re making good progress, but there’s still a lot to do.
“Our objective is to push everything to a much higher level from the solid base that we had with the FW31; from our drivers to the engines, chassis and trackside performance. Everyone in the factory is up for that and we want it to be a year about moving to the next level. We need to re-establish ourselves as one of the top teams and 2010 is our best opportunity to do that.”
While Hulkenberg shone in GP2 and Barrichello is a known quantity, the decision to run Cosworth engines next year is one area of uncertainty.
“Cosworth have a lot of work to do over the winter on the dynos, particularly on fuel consumption but, in terms of performance and reliability, it will be difficult to judge how competitive they are until we get out on track,” he said. “They are an engineering-led company, they’re pushing hard and what we’ve seen so far is encouraging.
The team will take the opportunity of conducting a ‘young driver’ test in December, running F2 champion Andy Soucek for one day and then Hulkenberg for the remaining two days. The new FW32 is scheduled to run for the first time in February.
E.A. © CAPSIS International