Williams Turkish Grand Prix post race summary SYNOPSIS The AT&T Williams team enjoyed a relatively competitive Turkey campaign, with a better showing on the high speed configuration of the Istanbul Park circuit than performance on similar...
Williams Turkish Grand Prix post race summary
The AT&T Williams team enjoyed a relatively competitive Turkey campaign, with a better showing on the high speed configuration of the Istanbul Park circuit than performance on similar tracks earlier in the year might have suggested. Turkey's lift to drag ratio has increased, now pushing further towards the efficiency demands of Monza and Spa. The relative competitiveness of the FW29 in Turkey thus indicates that the car is evolving into a more universally competitive proposition than it was at the beginning of the year.
Fundamental to efficiency is the trade off with cooling, as opening a race car's body work reduces aero efficiency, but one of the notable characteristics of the Otodrom is that despite the high ambient temperatures, the high speed nature of the track means that both effective cooling and relative aero efficiency through reduced cooling apertures can be simultaneously achieved.
In the Friday practice sessions, both Alex and Nico had almost trouble-free sessions and closed out the day in 9th and 7th respectively. The key learning from the session was that the Bridgestone Option and Prime tyres were very closely matched and making a selection across the narrow performance range would prove difficult for most of the field.
On Saturday, an uneventful morning practice preceded qualifying with Nico taking to the track with a new engine and Alex carrying over his Toyota H151 engine from Budapest. Both cars progressed comfortably into Q2, but towards the end of the second session, Alex struggled to produce a complete lap to make it into the final session. Nico, who favoured the Option tyre over the Primes that Alex had used for his final Q2 runs progressed into Q3 and come the end of the final session, was unfortunate not to claim P7 on the provisional grid, losing out by 1/100th to Kovalainen.
On Sunday, Alex advanced two places from P16 to P14 on the grid as the two Hondas suffered ten place penalties for unscheduled engine changes. Both cars had clean starts, with Nico holding station and Alex finding three places by lap 2. In the first stint Nico worked hard to reduce Fisichella's potential strategy advantage and in the second stint, a carefully executed stop on lap 39 saw him claim P7 from BMW's Kubica by the slimmest of margin. Alex's strategy from P14, a two stop strategy with a relatively short first stint, was however followed by a number of his key competitors which meant it was hard to derive sufficient advantage from the timing of his stops and he had a relatively uneventful race to P11.
TYRES & FUEL
Although theoretically possible, only Schumacher and Sato opted to stop once, which meant both Rosberg and Wurz ran similar strategies to their immediate competitors. While this kept Rosberg in contention with the cars around him, the strategy for Wurz further down the grid did not provide sufficient leeway to improve any further than the three places claimed at the beginning of the race. Both drivers followed similar tyre plans running the harder compound for the first two stints and the medium compound for the final stint.
SYSTEMS & RELIABILITY
Both cars ran reliably for the weekend with the exception of a minor suspension component which resulted in Alex missing his final run in the first free practice session on Thursday.
The team is testing at Monza this week, assessing a number of new aero components in preparation for the next two high speed, low downforce races in Italy and Belgium. Driving duties are being shared between Kazuki Nakajima (Tuesday), Alex Wurz (Wednesday) and Nico Rosberg (Thursday).
"While I wouldn't get too complacent about our performance in Turkey as clearly our aspirations are higher, we had a good competitive run against the competition which is indicative of the car coping better on the higher speed circuits and of course it is important for Nico to convert his strong form into points in the Driver's table, so there were plenty of positives to be derived from the weekend, but equally there is more to do."