Williams' bosses comment on their drivers

Williams' bosses comment on their drivers

Much has been made of the differences between Williams' drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher; the extrovert and the introvert. Their supposed dislike for each other and how they get on under working conditions. Speaking today at the...

Much has been made of the differences between Williams' drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher; the extrovert and the introvert. Their supposed dislike for each other and how they get on under working conditions.

Speaking today at the BMW Williams launch of the FW24, Team Principal Sir Frank Williams, Technical Director Patrick Head, and BMW Motorsport Directors Gerhard Berger and Mario Theissen all had their say about their drivers.

Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya with the new 2002 WilliamsF1 BMW FW24.
Photo by Mark Gledhill.

Head, who has recently been rumoured to support Montoya over Schumacher was quick to reply: "I think they're both excellent drivers. Williams, in combination with most other teams, want to have two drivers who are as close and as fast as possible. There's no point in designing and manufacturing a very expensive motor car and then deliberately getting a slow driver to drive it. We want to have two drivers as fast as we possibly can and in Ralf and Juan Pablo that's what we have."

Theissen explained the differences between the two drivers last year in respect to Schumacher's experience and Montoya's first year in Formula One. He commented: "For us there are two things. One is how the driver drives the car and makes use of the engine and the other thing is in what way he gives feedback to the engineers. I saw quite a difference last year when Juan Pablo was new to Formula One. At that time we got a much more detailed response from Ralf on things, like driveability of the engine and on technical problems as well. Ralf is very good at analyzing problems that occur when he is driving and giving feedback to the engineers; and getting the car home. At that time Juan Pablo didn't give as detailed a response as Ralf. It changed a bit during the season so by the end of the season they were close to each other (on analyzing and feedback) in my view."

Williams was not to be drawn into any comparisons on the subject of either Montoya or Schumacher, simply stating: "We've always believed both cars should be firing on all cylinders, in every sense of the word, or both capable of winning and that's how we want to leave it."

Expanding slightly on that comment, Berger said: "I think it's known that we're very happy with the driver line up we have. Both young, very talented guys that show both are ready to drive and win races. I think it couldn't be better for us. It would be nice to see that both of them start the season the way Ralf did last year and (finish it) the way Juan did the second half of the season, and go through it all the way. We are confident that we have, I would say, the strongest line up in the field."

Given a situation where either Schumacher or Montoya had to a miss a race, with two test drivers now, who would be the choice to take the race seat?

Head carefully skirted round the answer:
"Obviously Marc Gene has a lot more experience than Antonio Pizzonia, but they're both very fast and that's something that would have to be settled at the time."

As for the controversial team orders, Head was adamant that it was not an option unless it was possible for one driver to win the Championship and the other not.
"It's not a contractually bound situation but it's always understood that if we have one driver who's in a position to compete for a championship and another driver who isn't in that same position; then that driver will help the other driver. But that's later on during the year."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Williams