Williams Chinese Grand Prix post race summary SYNOPSIS The fourth Chinese Grand Prix was unrewarding for the AT&T Williams team, a non-points scoring finish concluding an unsuccessful fortnight in the Far East. Where other teams succeeded,...
Williams Chinese Grand Prix post race summary
The fourth Chinese Grand Prix was unrewarding for the AT&T Williams team, a non-points scoring finish concluding an unsuccessful fortnight in the Far East. Where other teams succeeded, both Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz struggled to generate performance from their tyres from the outset, which left the pair at a performance disadvantage throughout the weekend.
Although the team prepared race strategies to combat this weakness, the variable weather conditions during the race itself mitigated any potential benefit and Nico was unable to finish better than his 16th placed qualifying position, while Alex progressed from 19th on the grid to 12th at the conclusion of the Grand Prix.
For the first time since the US Grand Prix, and fresh from being honoured with GP2's Rookie of the Year accolade, the team's test and reserve driver, Kazuki Nakajima, returned to the cockpit for Friday's first free practice session.
Alongside Nico, the pair worked through a number of set-up evaluations and tyre compares between the medium and hard compounds. Alex resumed his seat in the afternoon to finalise the day's preparation work. Despite being unable to derive optimum performance from the tyres, the team's drivers recorded competitive lap times, particularly on their long runs, while covering over 650kms.
Nico and Alex commenced Saturday's running with the same engines as in Japan, now back in sequence following Nico's unscheduled change in Fuji. While preparing for qualifying, both drivers still relayed similar concerns to the day previously. As such, Nico recorded the 11th quickest time while Alex finished P19 at the close of FP3.
With rain predicted for Sunday's race, the team opted for a higher downforce set-up going into the afternoon. Qualifying was over fairly quickly for the team, with Alex eliminated after round one and placed in P19 and Nico only making it as far as Q2 and P16.
Sunday's race was started under some much hoped for wet conditions. Nico endured a poor opening lap, losing four places off the start, but soon reclaimed position and had progressed to 11th place by his first stop. During his stop, the team opted to put Nico on the dry tyre and sent him out fuelled until the end of the race.
On paper, the one-stop strategy should have placed Nico in a good points-scoring position at the end of the race. Unfortunately, a scrap with the Renaults in the second half saw Nico spin at turn one and pick up a puncture. An unscheduled stop for fresh rubber moved him down to 18th. A change in weather then forced him in for a third stop from which he couldn't recover rendering him in 16th place at the finish line.
Alex, meanwhile, enjoyed a more productive start to his race, climbing three places on the first lap. With the track starting to dry out, Alex made the timely call to pit early to fit his FW29 with dry tyres, the first driver to do so and which proved to be an intelligent decision which moved him from 16th to seventh place. His second scheduled stop on lap 37 dropped him down to 12th where he finished the race.
TYRES & FUEL
Nico ran a one and Alex and two stop strategy in China. The changeable weather conditions, however, compromised both strategies, obliging the pair into an additional stop each, while Nico was also forced into a further unscheduled stop following a puncture.
SYSTEMS & RELIABILITY
Both Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz's FW29s ran without any reliability issues throughout the weekend.
The team travel to Sao Paulo next week for the final round of the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday 21st October.
Sam Michael, Technical director:
"Any chance of collecting points in China was mitigated by our issues in finding a suitable grip level for qualifying. Together with the variable conditions over the weekend, the team left Asia empty-handed. There's always an opportunity to capitalise on wet weather conditions, but we were compromised from the start by our grid positions. A puncture on Nico's car almost certainly prevented him from a points-scoring finish as well. We're working hard towards finding a solution for the qualifying grip level issue. There's just one race remaining and we must do everything we can in Brazil to defend our position in the Championship."