Tag Archives: Williams

Only winning is good enough, says Sir Frank

Sir Frank Williams is confident that his team has made good progress over the winter, and says that a consistent driver and engineering line-up will be a boost to its prospects.

The team boss stressed that winning races has to be the target in 2016.

Williams has started to cement our position back amongst the front running teams after finishing third in the Championship in the past two seasons,” said Williams. “This has been a great achievement given the resources of those around us. Staying where we are will be a challenge in itself, but we are determined to keep improving because only winning will ever be good enough.

We have a very stable team going into 2016, with Felipe and Valtteri teaming up for a third successive season. They work well together and both have the ideal blend of speed and consistency. Our technical team has also remained very consistent which will be to our advantage and we have some of the best engineering minds on the grid at our disposal.

We have a busy couple of weeks of testing coming up to learn more about our package and to refine the car ahead of the first race. We will have to wait until Melbourne to find out exactly where we stand in the pecking order but I’m confident that our hard work over the winter will stand us in good stead.”

Meanwhile deputy team principal Claire Williams believes that the team has made a step and addressed the weaknesses of the FW37.

2016 promises to be a very competitive year in Formula One and there will be a number of strong teams who have us in their sights. We are confident that we have made a step forward over the winter and that the FW38 will build on the strengths of the FW37 and address some of its weaknesses. We started design work on the car earlier than normal and hopefully this extra development time will stand us in good stead.

The car we are launching today is by no means the final product. We are already planning updates for Melbourne and will be pushing for constant improvements over the course of the season. Williams enters 2016 in a strong place. We have a great team of people and over the past two years we have started to regain our competitive edge. Now we need to build on that and take this team back to where we all want it to be.”

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Sutil leaves Williams reserve role

Adrian Sutil will not continue in his role as Williams reserve driver in 2016, a team source has confirmed.

The German always regarded the Williams role as a temporary one as he looked for other opportunities, and it’s understood that he is close to signing a deal outside F1. He is known to be interested in the WEC and DTM, while Japanese Super GT may also appeal. He contested one GT race for TOM’S Toyota in 2006, during his F3 season in Japan.

Sutil was announced at Williams before last year’s Malaysian GP. However, he was in discussion with the team even before Valtteri Bottas’s accident in Melbourne – which ultimately forced the Finn to miss the opening race of the season – put an extra focus on the need to have a reserve on hand.

Williams decided to sign a driver who had racing experience, and specifically with the hybrid V6, rather than promote Susie Wolff.

Sutil attended all the flyaway races with Williams in 2015, while waiting at home on standby for European events. Although he sampled the car in the simulator he never actually drove the FW37 on track.

It’s not yet clear whether Williams will hire another experienced driver as reserve. With Wolff now retired GP2 racer Alex Lynn has been tipped to continue in a test role.

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Felipe Massa: “It’s impossible to be so happy when you finish third”

Felipe Massa admits that Williams still has to make a big leap if the Grove team is to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari in 2016.

The team finished third in the constructors’ championship in 2014 and again last year, but Massa acknowledges that the next step is even harder, and that downforce is the key.

“Both seasons were really, really good, but we want more,” Massa said at the Autosport International show. “We know that to fight with these teams in front, Mercedes and Ferrari, you need to do amazing improvements from one year to the other. That’s the way it is. Especially when you look at those teams, they have a lot more opportunities, a lot more money, a lot more budget to put in the car, which we know makes an effect at the end.”

Massa is proud of the progress that the team had made since he joined in 2014.

“I could feel that I was important as well for this improvement, the job we all made together. The work that everybody put together I feel really that I was inside this improvement, and I feel really proud.

“Actually, we want more. It’s impossible to be so happy when you finish third in the championship. We’re fighting teams that are much bigger than us, and we know it’s not easy to be in front of them. We were in front of many big teams, and that’s great, but we want more.

“McLaren, they had a really big problem [last] year, they were struggling a lot. But I think Red Bull showed that we really beat a team that’s much bigger, a team that won many championships in the very near past. We were not far away compared to Ferrari as well, but they were better. But we’re pushing hard for 2016. I hope we can do better than what we did until now.”

Massa made it clear where the biggest gains could be found: “The most important think we need to improve is the aerodynamics of the car. We need to give the car more downforce, so we need to improve this area compared with the teams we are fighting with.

“I would say the engine we are using is a similar engine to [the works] Mercedes, which is the best engine in F1, but Ferrari caught up really a lot. I don’t know how much better is the Mercedes compared to Ferrari, but Ferrari is very, very close, that’s why they improved massively as well.

“But I would say maybe where we need to improve more is on the aerodynamics, which is what we’re working on, maybe already from the middle of last year until now. I hope we can see some improvements in this area.”

Felipe praised team mate Valtteri Bottas, stressing that the fact that they like the same things from a car is a big plus.

“We respect each other in a good way. I think we work together with the team in a proper way, which definitely helps for the position at the end. It’s also thanks to the work that both of us are doing for the team, going to the factory, the simulator, but also pushing the team for not so different ideas.

“I think we feel more or less similar things on the car. I think Valtteri is getting more experience since we started until now, so he grows a lot in terms of experience, which is great. I’m really happy to work with him.”

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“Pressured” Symonds wants to postpone F1 rule changes to 2018

Pat Symonds has suggested that the technical rule changes currently intended for 2017 should be postponed for a year – a reflection of the fact that there is still an ongoing debate about exactly what direction the sport should take, and that time is running out.

The significance is that the Williams chief technical officer is one of the main architects of the new package, and as such has been at the heart of the discussions since the F1 Strategy Group asked for faster and more spectacular cars.

The 2017 rules are supposed to be fully defined by March 1st, but there remains a chance that next week’s F1 Strategy Group and Commission meetings could agree that more time is needed, if others share the views of Symonds.

“There are two technical regulation meetings yet to take place,” Symonds said at the Autosport show today. “One at the end of this month, one in February, before the 2017 rules are established by the beginning of March. So yes, we are getting into some of the details rather than the fundamentals.

“Are they right, are they wrong? I think that’s not what the Strategy Group are talking about right now. The Strategy Group gave a mandate as to what the cars should be like for 2017, and we’ve been working on it. I think now the Strategy Group are moving on, and they are looking at the sporting aspects rather than the technical aspects.

“Will we produce a good car? I don’t know. I think we’ve still got work to do on it. I do feel a little bit rushed, a little bit pressured. I think that personally we’re trying to move a little bit too quickly without establishing the basic principles to work from. I’d be much happier if things moved on to 2018 rather than ’17 for new rules, and we spent a year really researching what’s needed. But that’s probably a cry in the wilderness.”

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Raikkonen move “a bit too much,” says Bottas

Valtteri Bottas insists that he didn’t expect that Kimi Raikkonen would try a last lap passing move in Sochi, given how far behind the Ferrari driver was.

After the pair made contact Bottas slid into the barrier and lost his third place, and a penalty for Raikkonen that dropped him from fifth to eighth provided little compensation to the frustrated Williams man.

“I’d just got past Perez and I was approaching Turn 4 and suddenly when I turned into the apex someone hit me from the back,” said Bottas. “That’s it really. It’s disappointing, it ruined my day. I can say that I can happily look in the mirror and say it was not my fault.

“I was not expecting a move like this from him, but now it’s done, zero points, and it’s very disappointing. I was approaching the corner in a normal way, and I saw in Turn 3 he was quite far away, so no way he could pass me there if I do my standard line. I think this was a bit too much. It’s a fine line, but it was a bit too much.

“I don’t know what the thinking was behind it really, doing it there and the last lap, and that far away. It was not too bad a race until then, running third on the last lap. It’s just a shame it ended that way.”

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Rob Smedley: Monza had to be clean weekend for Williams

Rob Smedley says that it was important for the Williams F1 team to enjoy a troublefree weekend in Italy, where Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas finished third and fourth.

Smedley adds that the key was to bring home the maximum available points given the pace of the car, and not make any mistakes by being too ambitious.

The Grove outfit has had a lot of frustration in recent months, most notably in Spa, where Bottas was fitted with set of mismatched tyres.

“The message to the team at the start of the weekend was that we had to have a clean weekend,” Smedley told this writer. “And if the car was the third quickest car, then we had to finish fifth and sixth. Other people dropped off for different reasons, reliability or starts, which is the two cars we got ahead of.

“But we didn’t drop the ball, and we just went through trying to have the most calm and easy weekend that we could, and getting the most out of the car rather than reaching for the moon and falling way behind. We’re reasonably pleased with it.”

At Monza Nico Rosberg got ahead of both Williams drivers by pitting early, and Smedley admits that Massa did not have a perfect pit stop.

“We reacted immediately with Felipe, and the pit stop was slow. We took a long time to gun the wheels off. Without that there’s a fair chance that we could have come out in front, we lost more than a second in the pit stop compared with what we do in practice.

“Whether that was enough to hold Nico off for the rest of the race I’m not sure, barring what happened with his engine, obviously. With Valtteri it was then a case that we’d sit it out for a little bit and make sure that he was rock solid at the end. That’s where we went with that one.”

Smedley says that there were no team orders in the closing laps, when the cars ran close together: “They were absolutely free to race. The only message that they got from the pit wall, and Pat [Symonds] and I discussed it up on the pit wall, was you need to give a little bit more room as it’s your team mate. But apart from that, get on and race.”

Deputy team principal Claire Williams agreed that the weekend could not have turned out any better.

“I’m really pleased with that,” she told this writer. “They made really good starts to get around Raikkonen’s car at the beginning, and just drove a really solid race. The pit stop guys did what they needed to do. We obviously benefited from Rosberg, it was unfortunate for him to retire so late, but Felipe got a lovely podium.

“That’s what we wanted, just a straightforward, easy race with with no issues, and we got that, and we got some great points, which we needed to do. It was about points for us, to try and close the gap to Ferrari, but more importantly extend the gap to Red Bull.”

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Felipe Massa: “I like the idea of refuelling…”

Felipe Massa says he supports the move towards the return of refuelling in 2017, as well as the general push to have faster cars.

The Brazilian is also keen on the plan for teams being able to choose which tyre compounds to use, a change set to be introduved for next season.

“I like the idea of refuelling because the race is quicker, the car is quicker,” said Massa when asked by this writer. “We race with a very heavy car and the race is very technical today. It used to be a lot nicer for the driving point of view, and that’s why I like the idea of the refuelling.

“Plus for the teams to choose the tyres, we can see a change because of of that. For sure in most of the races I don’t think Pirelli choose the wrong tyres. Some of the races they are a little bit too conservative, some of the races, not. If you take 85-90% of the races, it’s more or less correct. But you will see things… Especially the teams that don’t have a good car they will choose, and they will risk. Maybe it can change a little bit especially the qualifying, because the team has quicker tyres for the qualifying, and maybe they can go back in the race. We need to understand, but I think it’s OK to have it.

“Maybe some changes for the fans or the people are OK to have, so we’ll wait and see. The cars should be quicker as well. I think they will put more downforce on the car, more power in the engine, plus maybe wider tyres. I think it’s difficult to say before, before you drive the car, it’s a little bit difficult.”

Asked about the Strategy Group’s target of quicker lap times he said: “Maybe 5-6 seconds is a little bit too much, but for sure we want to go as fast as we can, for sure we want competition as well. I remember before when we had a lot of downforce maybe you didn’t even see overtaking in the race, and now the DRS helps.

“This is the only doubt that we need to understand, that they still keep the challenge in a good way. We have already good power from the engine, so maybe we’re going to have a little bit more, which will be more interesting, it’s fine to have. I think more important than the power is the noise for the people.”

Meanwhile when reminded that fuel stops can go wrong – as happened to Felipe in Singapore in 2008 – the Brazilian made it clear that he remembers that race more for the ‘Crashgate’ scandal.

“In Singapore the refuelling was not a problem, the problem was the mechanic that pressed the button at the wrong time. Even if it was not the refuelling and the tyres were not there I was going out with a problem anyway. Especially in Singapore the biggest problem was a fake race as well. So many things happened in that race, it wasn’t just the refuelling that was a problem. It was a race that was supposed to be cancelled, and it was not, unfortunately…”

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Lynn aiming to shine in Monaco after Williams test boost

GP2 frontrunner Alex Lynn made a good impression on his first test for Williams in Barcelona last week, and the Briton subsequently had the chance to sample Monaco on the Grove team’s simulator – which was a useful boost ahead of his debut on the streets of the principality.

Lynn, who won the Sunday GP2 race in Spain, is hoping to use the his Williams test role as a springboard to an eventual race seat.

“I think it was a great first day with the team,” he told this writer. “You always go into quite confident, expecting it to go well, and I think it went as expected. We didn’t get a huge amount of laps, because we were limited on engine mileage.

“But we managed to do some stuff for Monaco and correlation for the upgrades the team brought to Barcelona. We got up to speed quite quickly, so the team could get on with their work, and I got used to driving an F1 car a bit more. All-in-all it was a really solid and very successful day.”

One of the big benefits for Williams that that Lynn does a lot of the team’s simulator running, and it was important to let him get a feel for the actual car: “It’s massively useful to be honest, because Valtteri and Felipe, with their busy schedules, don’t get a huge amount of time in the sim. Giving me some time in the real car it allows us to crack on with the nitty gritty in the simulator to try and get it as perfect as possible.”

Barcelona was the only day of track running on Lynn’s schedule, but he says he is not frustrated by that.

“It is what it is. I got my opportunity, and I’m glad I gave a good account of myself. Hopefully the team were happy. At the end of the day if I impressed them then my next time in the car shouldn’t be too far away. But at the moment my attention switches back to performing in GP2. That’s my way of, let’s say, impressing.”

Meanwhile the former Macau GP winner says that while this week will be his first experience of Monaco he’s determined to get up to speed quickly.

“It’s going to be a special first lap, that’s for sure! And probably an eye-opening one. I feel as prepared as I can be going into the weekend. I’ve done a lot of work with the team to get myself as comfortable as I can, and then it all comes down to not crashing in free practice and learning as much possible.

“I know that last year DAMS had a very good car there, so that’s one factor taken out of the equation. And then it will come down to me learning quickly and adapting. I’m not underestimating how hard it’s going to be, but I do expect to adapt quickly and make progress very quickly. That’s the aim in many ways.”

He had an extra bonus today when David Coulthard joined him for an early morning bike ride and gave him some pointers.

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Bottas the man on every top F1 team’s shopping list

Valtteri Bottas continues to figure high on the shopping lists of leading teams that might be looking for a change of driver in the future.

The Finn underlined his position as the man that all team bosses are watching by holding off Sebastian Vettel in the closing laps in Bahrain, and then doing the same with Kimi Raikkonen in Spain. Despite missing the first race in Australia the Williams driver lies fifth in the World Championship, ahead of team mate Felipe Massa.

His manager Didier Coton says that while there is no substance to the recent stories linking the Finn to Ferrari it does no harm to have Bottas recognised as the man in demand.

“For a driver like Valtteri it’s a nice return on the sacrifice and commitment that he’s put into the sport and into his driving,” Coton told this writer. “It’s all positive. Frankly speaking what people call the ‘silly season’ is not on yet’, so let’s stay relaxed about it. What happened last week [with Ferrari], I don’t know where it came from. It’s a rumour, and it was launched by I don’t know who.

“Personally I consider that Williams is a top team. Valtteri is with Williams and he’s concentrating on that. We saw again in Spain that he did a great race, and we will continue to speak with them, and see after.

“Our job is to look at what he wants to achieve, and it’s our job to help him to achieve that. Sometimes it’s a long term objective, it’s not something that will happen in one year, it may happen in two years or three years. So the most important thing is to build a path to that objective, even if it takes a bit more time.”

Coton indicated that it would be wrong to assume that Bottas has no ongoing ties with Williams after this season: “I cannot go into details of contracts, but you have free agents and free agents.”

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GP2 star Lynn aims to impress Williams on only test day

Williams test driver Alex Lynn faces a big challenge on Wednesday in Barcelona as he has to make an impression on the team in what is his only scheduled outing of the season.

Lynn, who won the GP2 sprint race on Sunday, is obviously hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow GP3 champion Valtteri Bottas, and ultimately graduate to a race seat with the Grove team. His only previous F1 experience was a day with Lotus in Abu Dhabi at the end of last season.

“It’s my only time in the car this year so I need to make the most of it,” Lynn told this writer. “I have to do the job the team wants while also showing that I’m a good driver and hopefully what they want for the future. So that’s going to be the main aim.

“The Lotus day was so last minute, and I felt so out of my depth. I couldn’t have had a harder first day in an F1 car! This time I’ve had so much more preparation. The best thing was driving three days straight at the same track in a car that’s just a little bit slower than an F1 car. It was great preparation.”

The timing of his Barcelona GP2 victory was perfect as it gave him a boost before his F1 outing.

“This weekend was important just to get a good grounding in the championship. Obviously devastated to come away with no points after Bahrain where we showed such promise, this weekend we needed to get some points on the board and get the confidence of myself and the team back up to where it was in pre-season testing. It’s great for my confidence. I hope to have a strong F1 test, and then that snowballs into Monaco and then we start to put a nice year together.”

Lynn was the only driver able to stay ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne in the Barcelona sprint race, as the Belgian jumped from eighth to second: “I think a lot of people give him an easy time! They see him in their mirrors and they believe he’s genuinely quicker, the way he came through the traffic after stopping early in the feature race. So the win was an important one for me and the team. We’re not going to lie down, we’re going to take it to him every race.”

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