The Spanish Grand Prix resulted in another two car finish for AT&T Williams with Pastor Maldonado in 15th and Rubens Barrichello 17th. After initially losing position off the line, a sticking rear jack then cost Pastor valuable seconds in the pitlane while Rubens was hampered by both KERS and tyre wear issues. Despite the team not scoring any points in Barcelona, there was evidence of genuine progress with Pastor making it into Q3 in qualifying for the first time and Rubens setting the second fastest race lap.
Sam Michael, Technical Director:
Q: How would you sum up the performance of the FW33 around Barcelona?
SM: The end result wasn’t what we wanted but we’re gradually improving relative to the competition. We just need to improve faster to ensure we get the results the team deserve as soon as possible.
Q: Did the two pre-season test sessions at the track help progress over the race weekend?
SM: Yes, it always helps both the set-up of the car and the drivers when you race at tracks you have tested on. Barcelona is a track that they know very well, not only from Formula One testing but from also racing there in other categories. It helps us to really hit the ground running so we can focus more on the cars’ performance.
Q: Pastor made it into Q3 for the first time. How good was his performance in qualifying and what do you think this did for his confidence?
SM: It was a great effort by Pastor to get through into Q3 for the first time. We have to remember that he is a rookie, so any performances like that will always help to improve his confidence as well as showing that he is a talented driver. If we can keep making the car faster at the same time, it will pay off very soon.
Our tyre degradation has been high in the last few races
Q: The race was a mix of three and four-stop strategies. You opted for four with both cars: why?
SM: On paper it looked like there wasn’t a big difference between a three or a four stop strategy. Our tyre degradation has been high in the last few races though, so we opted for a strategy that would best help that: a four stop. I don’t think it was a wrong strategy given how many of the top runners also made the same decision.
Q: Rubens set the second fastest lap of the race. Does that hold any significance for you?
SM: Rubens fastest lap was set towards the end of the race on a new set of option tyres.
Q: Monaco comes next. Have you developed an aero package specific to the race?
SM: We do have a number of new parts that we will be taking to Monaco.
Q: Are you concerned about tyre degradation in the Principality?
SM: Rear tyre wear could be an issue at Monaco, but we really won’t know for sure until we get into first practice later this week.