Q&A with Sam Michael, Williams F1 Technical Director
2011 Monaco GP debrief
AT&T Williams scored its first points of 2011 in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix. The team’s FW33 proved to be fast and reliable all weekend and the drivers, Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado, put in tenacious performances behind the wheel. Technical Director Sam Michael sums up the team’s best weekend of the year to date.
Q: AT&T Williams scored its first points of 2011 at Monaco. How much of a relief was that to you and the team?
SM: It was great for everyone involved to get some points on the board and we must thank Rubens for bringing home our first of the season. It was however, somewhat bittersweet because Pastor was looking good for a big points haul. Rubens as well was perhaps looking good for an even better result but the first safety car came out and damaged his position significantly. You can see this from the number of cars that were running behind him that ended up in the top five after the safety car. Monaco is normally a lottery in that respect so to come away with some points is a good result for the whole team.
Q: Were you pleased with the pace of the FW33 through the streets of the Principality?
SM: Yes, the FW33 was performing well. In the race, I was particularly impressed at the speed we had on the same age of tyres as the top cars. For sure there is still a lot of work to do but we are heading in the right direction.
Q: How would you sum up the performance of Pastor Maldonado, who qualified in the top 10 for the second consecutive race and looked set for his first F1 points?
SM: His performance was nothing short of excellent. His two engineers Xevi Pujolar and Andrew Murdoch also did a great job. Their efforts really helped us make the right tyre and strategy decisions and Pastor pushed hard in the race when it mattered.
Q: What is your view on Pastor’s race-ending accident with Lewis Hamilton?
SM: It was a racing incident.
Q: Pirelli used its super-soft tyre for the first time this year. How did it hold up in the race?
SM: The wear life wasn’t as strong as we predicted from practice, but it was still good in the race. It would have been marginal for a one stop without the safety cars, so it looks like a two stop strategy was optimum.
Q: The next race on the calendar is Montréal. What are your hopes for the FW33 on such a low downforce track?
SM: Every circuit has been different this year, but with the improvements we have coming to the FW33 next weekend we should be competitive.
Q: There will be two DRS zones at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Do you expect the DRS to be effective in low downforce trim?
SM: Most definitely. I think the way the FIA are controlling the DRS is perfect. Charlie Whiting is evaluating it race by race and adjusting it to suit each circuit.