Synopsis Nico Rosberg's second fifth place in two races enabled the AT&T Williams team to move up another place in the Constructors' Championship for the third successive Grand Prix and into the top half of the table. In Friday's practice ...
Nico Rosberg's second fifth place in two races enabled the AT&T Williams team to move up another place in the Constructors' Championship for the third successive Grand Prix and into the top half of the table.
In Friday's practice sessions, the team analysed the various new aero parts, including a new floor, diffuser and front wing upgrade, all of which worked as anticipated. Friday's schedule also involved mechanical set-up work and the usual tyre evaluations, which showed little difference between the hard and softer compound, with the prime perhaps having a slight advantage at Silverstone. Kazuki Nakajima ended the second session in P4, and Nico in P9.
For the second time this season, Kazuki progressed through to Q3 in qualifying, while Nico made his eighth appearance. Both drivers demonstrated encouraging pace in the top ten shoot out, which saw Kazuki set the fifth and Nico the seventh fastest time, traffic and a three lap heavier fuel load perhaps costing Nico one grid position.
For the race, both drivers continued the strong first lap form seen all season, Kazuki gaining a position off the line to run in fourth place, while Nico moved up to sixth by the end of lap one following his overtaking manoeuvre going into Stowe. The team chose to run a prime, prime, option strategy with the tyres and put Kazuki on a short first stint and Nico on a slightly longer one. Unfortunately, Kazuki was unable to pull out enough of a gap ahead of his first stop on lap 15 which had the effect of leaving him embroiled in traffic during his second stint, which subsequently ruled out a potential points-paying finish. Nico drove a strong first stint but a slower car after the first round of stops ultimately cost him track position to the Ferrari. At the flag, Kazuki crossed the line in P11, while Nico brought his FW31 home in fifth while also setting the third fastest lap time of the race just behind the Red Bull pairing.
Q&A With Sam Michael, Technical Director
Q: Did the new parts on the FW31 perform as you'd hoped at Silverstone?
Yes, they did. We had some mechanical changes on the suspension at Silverstone and various aero updates. Testing during Friday's practice sessions showed they all worked as we expected.
Q: How does the FW31 now compare to the opposition?
We're currently in fifth place in the Constructors' Championship having been promoted up the table for the third race in succession. That's what matters and that shows where the FW31 is. Race-by-race performance can fluctuate and we were competitive at Silverstone, but the measure for any team is their place in the Constructors' tables and we are presently fifth.
Q: How did the cool(ish) temperatures affect the pace of the FW31?
For us, the temperatures at Silverstone didn't have any real influence on our race. We would have preferred to have run the hard tyre throughout, but there wasn't a massive difference between the two.
Q: Kazuki was quickest in Q1 and lined up in fifth place on the grid. Was the British Grand Prix a breakthrough weekend for him?
Kazuki has been continually improving since Barcelona and it's pleasing to see him helping to move the team forward. The major difference is that he is now contributing directly to the set-up process over a race weekend.
Q: Kazuki was fourth until his first pitstop, but he finished the race in 11th. Why did he lose so many positions?
Kazuki was on a shorter first stint than the other drivers because we had to do more laps in Q3 to get a lap time than we had planned to. Unfortunately, that then makes it critical to build up a good gap to the driver behind during the early part of the race, but Kazuki wasn't able to get the gap we needed him to. That caused him to then fell behind the chasing pack in the second stint.
Q: Nico finished the race only 0.8s behind Felipe Massa. Were you disappointed not to get fourth, or even third, with him?
If we could have run at our true pace in the middle stint, Nico would have been racing Barrichello for third place. As we weren't able to do that, Massa managed to catch Nico, even though he was slower than him. Massa then simply ran longer before the second pitstop and beat us.
Q: Looking ahead, there's now a three week break in the calendar before Germany. Time for a holiday?
No! The whole team has already started to prepare for the Nurburgring and will continue to do so for the next few weeks.