During this winter's testing the teams have been hedging their bets about how they might perform at Melbourne in just over a week and Williams is not expecting a top result. Team principal Frank Williams said the early races will be difficult but...
During this winter's testing the teams have been hedging their bets about how they might perform at Melbourne in just over a week and Williams is not expecting a top result. Team principal Frank Williams said the early races will be difficult but he believes Williams will make progress as the season goes on.
To begin with he reckons rivals will be stronger: "We're starting a little bit behind them, again," Williams told reporters at a pre-season lunch meeting on Tuesday. "But I think we've now got the means, the assets to really make some very rapid recovery. Not tomorrow morning, but over the next few months."
Chief of engineering Patrick Head admitted that driver Mark Webber has not been happy with the pace of the car in testing. "He is clearly disappointed with the performance of the car," said Head. "He realises that the basic car is potentially good but that aerodynamically it is in need of some more downforce."
"Without over-playing it too much, we've had some discrepancies between the model in the tunnel and the full-sized car in the tunnel," he added. "We're going through a process of understanding exactly why that is and I think we're learning an enormous amount that will help us get quite a bit stronger as we go on."
Webber will be partnered by Nick Heidfeld this season but the German will have to live up to expectations to keep his seat. Test driver Antonio Pizzonia was bitterly disappointed to miss out on the race seat but if Heidfeld doesn't deliver, Pizzonia is waiting in the wings.
"Nick may let us down, in which case we'll put Antonio back in," said Williams. "Nick knows that, Antonio knows that and BMW know that." Pizzonia has been looking at a drive in America but Williams would not be willing to let him go unless it was for an F1 seat.
"We want him to carry on testing," the team boss added of Pizzonia. "If he were to get an F1 drive we would absolutely not stand in his way but a Champ Car drive? We would not look at it favourably because we need him as a test driver."
Williams revealed that engine partner BMW will also supply Sauber next year, although it seems the Swiss squad is surprised by this. A spokesperson for Sauber said on Wednesday no deal had been done, as did BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen.
However, BMW is a likely candidate to team up with Sauber in 2006. The team is currently Ferrari powered but the deal with the Scuderia concludes at the end of this year. Red Bull is also interested in BMW engines but the manufacturer will only supply one extra team.