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Monaco GP: Williams determined to make progress, new updates for Monaco


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Williams determined to make progress, new updates for MonacoAfter another disastrous weekend in Spain, Williams are determined to get the so much-needed performance out of the 2013 contender, the Williams FW35. The Monaco Grand Prix, round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, is always a special Grand Prix, and there is no room for errors on the tight and twisty street circuit.

Mike Coughlan: The grip levels change the whole weekend

Technical Director Mike Coughlan is aware of the problems Williams have encountered this season, but is determined the extract the maximum out of the car he has designed. “Monaco may be one of the shortest tracks of the year, but it’s the most demanding, especially for the driver. Although the corner speeds are the slowest on the calendar, you have to use as much of the track as possible and the closer the driver can put his car to the barriers the faster he will go,” Coughlan said about the famous circuit.

And he further explained, “As it is a street circuit the grip levels change the whole weekend so it’s important to give the drivers as much time on-track as possible in order for them to gain confidence, particularly for Valtteri who has never driven here before. Due to the bumpy nature of the track, a good mechanical platform is required. We need to raise the ride-height and increase the steering angle capacity for the tight, twisting corners. We also run with maximum downforce there.”

Pastor Maldonado - Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado – Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado: Monaco is a very difficult challenge

Pastor Maldonado knows the circuit well and said about this weekend’s challenges, “I always look forward to this race as I feel very comfortable driving the circuit. You can also feel the history of Formula One as you drive through the streets and tackle some of the really famous corners. Monaco is a very difficult challenge, both mentally and physically, as you have to try and find the limits of the car with no margin for error if you push too hard.”

The Venezuelan driver reckons qualifying and the right tyre choice are important this weekend, “Qualifying will be very important at this race and is probably 70% of the weekend because overtaking is so difficult and risky. Tyre strategy and tyre management is important as you always use the softer compound of tyres in Monaco and they are very sensitive this year.”

Valtteri Bottas - Photo: Williams F1

Valtteri Bottas – Photo: Williams F1

Valtteri Bottas: The most challenging race on the calendar

Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas is looking forward to the event, but has never raced on the street circuit. “This will be my first time racing in Monaco and I’m really looking forward to it because it’s such an iconic track. It’s definitely the most challenging race on the calendar for the drivers, being an old school street circuit with no room for mistakes and I’m looking forward to the challenge of being on the limit at all times while being so close to the walls,” said Bottas.

He too, thinks the tyres are the most important factor this season, and said, “In the past tyre wear in Monaco has been quite minimal, but with Pirelli bringing the softs and super softs to this race the tyre degradation may be more of a factor, although less than we saw in Bahrain and Barcelona.”

Williams are currently ninth in the Constructors’ Championship as they have not scored one single point this season, Bottas and Maldonado are 17th and 18th in the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

• Red Bull Monaco GP Preview
• Ferrari Monaco GP Preview
McLaren Monaco GP Preview
• Lotus Monaco GP Preview
Mercedes Monaco GP Preview
Sauber Monaco GP Preview
Force India Monaco GP Preview
Williams Monaco GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Monaco GP Preview
Caterham Monaco GP Preview
Marussia Monaco GP Preview


Spanish GP: Williams looking forward to race at Barcelona again


By Berthold Bouman

Spanish GP: Williams looking forward to race at Barcelona againOf course, Williams have fond memories of the Spanish Grand Prix, as Pastor Maldonado won the event in 2012, and gave Williams the first victory since 2004. But there was also drama as a fire broke out in the Williams garage while the team was celebrating their victory.

Mike Coughlan: Track conditions can change a lot

Technical Director Mike Coughlan commented about the track, “Track conditions can change a lot during the weekend, making it a challenge to get a good set-up. The track layout, with its high average speed, also makes it quite hard on tyres. Surprisingly it has a similar power sensitivity to Monaco, due to the long corners and demand on handling.”

Williams too, will bring updates for the car to Barcelona and Coughlan said, “As the first race back in Europe, traditionally many teams will bring upgrades to their cars – and we are no different. Following a successful aero test at Idiada last week, we have a number of upgrades which we will be looking to run over the coming races.”

Pastor Maldonado - Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado – Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado: The track can be quite hard on tyres

Of course, Maldonado is happy to return to the circuit where he scored his maiden Formula One win, but he is more concerned about the tyres, as the track’s surface will change during the three days. “All the drivers know the track very well and we have some good data from testing here earlier in the year, but the track changes quite a lot so you still need to familiarise yourself with the conditions during practice and set up the car accordingly,” said Maldonado.

The tyre choice will also be important according to the Venezuelan driver, ”The choice of tyre compound will also be a big factor on how well the teams handle the track conditions as the track can be quite hard on tyres. We are now entering a very important part of the season because the next couple of races are quite close to the factory, so there will be more opportunities for us to react to our performance on track and make changes to the car.”

Valtteri Bottas - Photo: Williams F1

Valtteri Bottas – Photo: Williams F1

Valtteri Bottas: The win last year was a big motivational boost

Although he never raced a Formula One car on the Spanish track, Valtteri Bottas does know the track well from his Formula Renault and Formula Three days, and the young Finn said about this weekend’s challenge, “The win last year in Barcelona was a big motivational boost for everyone and was a good example of what we can achieve when everything comes together.“

And he added, “We are working hard to get back to that level and following a good aero test last week at Idiada and a number upgrades coming for this race, hopefully Barcelona can be the start of improved performance for us this year.”

Despite their efforts, Williams still has to score their first points of the season, the Grove-based outfit is ninth in the Constructors’ Championship, Bottas and Maldonado are 16th and 17th respectively.

Also read:

Red Bull Spanish GP Preview
Ferrari Spanish GP Preview
McLaren Spanish GP Preview
Lotus Spanish GP Preview
Mercedes Spanish GP Preview
Sauber Spanish GP Preview
Force India Spanish GP Preview
Williams Spanish GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Spanish GP Preview
Caterham Spanish GP Preview
Marussia Spanish GP Preview


Bahrain GP: Williams hoping to be more competitive, disappointed to not have scored points


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Williams hoping to be more competitive, disappointed to not have scored pointsNot a very good start of the season for Williams: two retirements, and no points scored. Williams is getting ready for round four of the FIA Formula One World Championship: The Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, near Manama.

Mike Coughlan: It has been disappointing not to score points

Williams Technical Director Mike Coughlan admitted the new car is not fast enough, but he is confident the car suits the Bahrain circuit better, “We feel that the current car, whilst not as competitive as we would like, will be more competitive in Bahrain.“ And he added, “It’s been disappointing not to score points in our first three races, but we can be pleased with the fact that Valtteri [Bottas] has managed to bring the car home in every race so far with very solid drives.”

But Bahrain is a tough circuit according to Coughlan, “Bahrain is a circuit that has some key characteristics that will present new challenges for the teams. It’s a high braking circuit so brake wear will be a factor, it is tough on rear tyres and it has a high ambient temperature. For engines it is a high power, high-efficiency circuit that places a premium on straight line speed and the Renault engine should be robust at this sort of circuit.”

Two retirements for Maldonado - Photo: Williams F1

Two retirements for Maldonado – Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado: Track conditions can change quite a lot during the weekend

Pastor Maldonado is looking forward to another challenging race and commented, “Because the Sakhir circuit is in the desert the track conditions can change quite a lot during the weekend, especially with the sand being blown across the surface, so the teams will have to be ready to react to the different conditions.”

“Tyre degradation is also expected to be quite high at this race which can always throw up some interesting challenges for the teams,” the Venezuelan added.

Williams hoping to be more competitive - Photo: Williams F1

Williams hoping to be more competitive – Photo: Williams F1

Valtteri Bottas: We need to try and find a good car set-up

Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas had a busy start this season, but the rookie is learning fast. “It’s been a very busy start to my career with two back to back races in a row, but it has meant that I have had a lot of time in the car and the chance to try and understand its characteristics.”

He thinks the tyres will be an important factor during the race, “The tyres tend to drop off quite a lot at this circuit so in Friday practice we need to try and find a good car set-up to maximise the long run performance for the race so we can keep the tyres alive longer than others.”

Williams is currently ninth in the Constructors’ Championship, while Bottas is 16th, and Maldonado 20th in the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

Red Bull Bahrain GP Preview
Ferrari Bahrain GP Preview
McLaren Bahrain GP Preview
Lotus Bahrain GP Preview
Mercedes Bahrain GP Preview
Sauber Bahrain GP Preview
Force India Bahrain GP Preview
Williams Bahrain GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Bahrain GP Preview
Caterham Bahrain GP Preview
Marussia Bahrain GP Preview


Chinese GP: Williams expects more favourable conditions in Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Williams expects more favourable conditions in Shanghai - Photo: Williams F1Last year Williams made a rocket start during the first few races of the season — they won the Spanish Grand Prix, this year the Grove-based team has been confronted with many problems, and the new 2013 contender, the Williams FW35, seems to suffer from a chronic lack of speed.

Mike Coughlan: We have a better understanding of where we are

Technical Director Mike Coughlan is aware of the problems and said, “After a difficult two races we’ve been back at the factory going through the data to try to understand where we need to improve. We feel we have a better understanding of where we are and the whole team has been working hard to improve our competitiveness going into the next few races. Ultimately we are looking at a significant upgrade for the Spanish Grand Prix.”

But he’s expecting cooler weather, and that might help the British team, and Coughlan said, “The ambient conditions in China will be kinder although the weather can be quite changeable. The cooler temperatures we expect are not only more favourable for the car but also for both the team and driver. The circuit is also usually quite hard on tyres, so that could prove another challenge.”

Two retirements in two races for Maldonado - Photo: Williams F1

Two retirements in two races for Maldonado – Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado: This can be quite an unpredictable race

Driver Pastor Maldonado knows the circuit well, and reckons the race will be a real challenge for him, “This can be quite an unpredictable race and the weather conditions are a particular challenge. There is also a mix of different corners so you need to get the right balance between good straight line speed for the very long straight, whilst still having good grip in the lower speed corners.”

And he added, “Another challenge is the strategy as there are a few difficult decisions the engineers face when deciding what type of race to run here. We haven’t had the best start to the season and we need some time to improve our car to be solid in the points, but the whole team is working very hard so let’s wait and see how we can adapt the car for this race.”

Valtteri Bottas - Photo: Williams F1

Valtteri Bottas – Photo: Williams F1

Valtteri Bottas: Getting the tyres to work will be the biggest challenge

Valtteri Bottas knows the circuit from free practice last year, but has never completed a race in a Formula One car on the Shanghai track. “It’s a track that shares similar characteristics to the last Grand Prix in Malaysia. Whilst not as hot and humid, the weather can be variable so you need a car that works well in different conditions,” said Bottas.

The Finn thinks the tyres are the key to success, “Getting the tyres to work will be the biggest challenge facing all of the teams, as the temperatures are often low and the smooth track surface is quite different to what we saw in the first two races.”

Williams is currently ninth in the Constructors’ Championship, while Bottas is fifteenth, and Maldonado, as he retired from the first two races, is 22nd and last in the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

Red Bull Chinese GP Preview
• Ferrari Chinese GP Preview
McLaren Chinese GP Preview
Lotus Chinese GP Preview
Mercedes Chinese GP Preview
Sauber Chinese GP Preview
Force India Chinese GP Preview
Williams Chinese GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Chinese GP Preview
Caterham Chinese GP Preview
Marussia Chinese GP Preview


Malaysian GP: Williams aim to score points with both cars


By Berthold Bouman

Malaysian GP: Williams aim to score points with both cars - Photo: Williams F1A miserable start of the season for Williams, Pastor Maldonado retired from the Australian Grand Prix after 24 laps, while rookie Valtteri Bottas eased the pain just a little bit by finishing his first Formula One race in 14th position. After a disastrous qualifying, Maldonado said the FW35 was ‘undriveable’, and the Venezuelan even feared a repeat of the 2011 campaign.

Technical Director Mike Coughlan: Working hard to solve the problems

“Following a difficult opening to the season in Australia, the team has regrouped and been working hard to solve the problems we encountered last weekend,” said Williams Technical Director Mike Coughlan. “We have a good idea where to focus our efforts and learnt a lot in Melbourne which we will implement in Malaysia to continue working to improve the performance of the FW35 throughout Friday testing and into the weekend,” the Briton added.

Asked about the goals for the Malaysian Grand Prix Coughlan said, “Our aim is to move forward from where we were last weekend, with a view to end the race with both cars in points-scoring positions.”

Valtteri Bottas - Photo: WiIliams F1

Valtteri Bottas – Photo: WiIliams F1

Pastor Maldonado: The weather conditions can change in an instant

Maldonado has put the Australian Grand Prix behind him, and is ready to tackle the next challenge, the Malaysian Grand Prix. “I had a disappointing Australian Grand Prix and the car isn’t quite where we hoped it would be, but we will be working hard to unlock the potential that we saw in testing.”

But it won’t be a walk in the park he warned, “Malaysia is one of my favourite circuits and it’s also one of the most challenging, testing your skill and concentration towards the end of the race as the heat takes its toll on you physically.”

About the Malaysian weather he remarked, “The weather conditions can change in an instant and in the last couple of years the weather has gone from 40 degree heat to thunderstorms and heavy rain, with extreme changes in track temperature as well.”

Valtteri Bottas: Looking to improve on performance

Bottas also thinks the weather and humidity will be the biggest challenge this weekend. But he also hopes to improve on his performance, although 14th place in Melbourne wasn’t too bad for a rookie.

“I learnt a lot from my first Grand Prix in Australia and whilst we weren’t as competitive as we had hoped, the fact that I brought the car home safely in my first race is a positive I can take away and we will now be looking to improve on our performance for this race,” said the Finn.

He also expect problems with the new Pirelli tyres, “Last year was very difficult because we had hot humid track temperatures combined with a series of rain showers. The fast corners in the second sector of the track are the most challenging because it’s really hot for the tyres and in these high temperatures you need to be careful not to degrade them too quickly.”

Also read:

Red Bull Malaysian GP Preview
Ferrari Malaysian GP Preview
McLaren Malaysian GP Preview
Lotus Malaysian GP Preview
Mercedes Malaysian GP Preview
Sauber Malaysian GP Preview
Force India Malaysian GP Preview
Williams Malaysian GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Malaysian GP Preview
Caterham Malaysian GP Preview
Marussia Malaysian GP Preview


Australian GP: Williams to test new aero packages at Melbourne


By Berthold Bouman

Australian GP Williams to test new aero packages at Melbourne - Photo: Williams F1The Williams team is also ready for round one of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit. Williams replaced Bruno Senna with the talented young Valtteri Bottas, who will make his Grand Prix debut this weekend.

Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: New aero packages for season opener

Williams’ technical Director Mike Coughlan was pleased with winter testing, but has already planned to test two new aero packages on Friday. “We have some further aero tests planned for Friday with both drivers in Australia. The results so far have been interesting and so we’ll make our final decision on Friday evening as to what we will run over the weekend.”

Williams is concentrating on the Pirelli tyres this weekend, and Coughlan said, “The ambient temperatures in Jerez and Barcelona are very different to what we expect to find in Australia, so we’ll be looking very closely at tyre degradation during practice on Friday. Overall, we are very much looking forward to the start of the season as we have confidence in the FW35.”

Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas - Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas – Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado: We expect to be more competitive

Pastor Maldonado is confident the Williams FW35 will perform well this season, “We have been working extremely hard over the winter to improve the performance of the car and we have noticed good potential in the recent tests in Barcelona.”

About the development of the car he commented, “I’ve been involved with the FW35 build since the start of the project in early 2012, working with the engineers, design office and the technicians in the wind tunnel to push for improvements on all fronts.”

He expects to be more competitive this season, “Obviously we don’t know what other teams have done and you can only learn so much during testing, but we expect to be more competitive than last year. I like street circuits so I always enjoy coming to Australia and now I just want to start the season and find out where we stand.”

Valtteri Bottas: Car showed strong reliability

Rookie Valtteri Bottas is optimistic ahead of his first Grand Prix, “We have had a good winter at the factory and the car showed strong reliability and performance during testing. The FW35 feels like a new car in comparison to the FW34, behaving and responding differently around the track to the car I was driving on Friday mornings last year and I’m impressed with the improvements the team have made.”

The Finn thinks he’s well-prepared for the physical demands of Formula One, “The winter has seen me preparing hard for the demands of driving a full race which I haven’t done before in Formula One. However, I’ve always done a lot of fitness training and have driven a lot of miles over the past few years with the team, so I’m feeling fully prepared. The first Grand Prix of my career is a big thing for me and I can’t wait for the lights to go out in Melbourne and see how the FW35 performs against the competition.”

Also read:

Red Bull Australian GP Preview
Ferrari Australian GP Preview
McLaren Australian GP Preview
Lotus Australian GP Preview
Mercedes Australian GP Preview
Sauber Australian GP Preview
Force India Australian GP Preview
Williams Australian GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Australian GP Preview
Caterham Australian GP Preview
Marussia Australian GP Preview


F1 2013 preview — Part 1: Red Bull, Ferrari, Force India, Williams, Caterham and Marussia


By Berthold Bouman

F1 2013 preview -- Part 1 Red Bull, Ferrari, Force India, Williams, Caterham and MarussiaTeams, drivers and fans are looking forward to the first race of the year: the Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne. After 12 days of pre-season testing the status quo of the 11 teams is still somewhat nebulous to say the least, some teams, like Red Bull Racing, haven’t shown their trump cards yet, and thus it’s impossible to predict who stands the best chance to win the Australian Grand Prix. In today’s preview: Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, Force India, Williams, Caterham and Marussia.

Red Bull Racing

1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Mark Webber

It’s no secret Red Bull haven’t shown their true pace yet, for the fifth successive season Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will fight for the honours of the Austrian team, Red Bull certainly didn’t want to take any chances by changing their driver line-up. The eternal question raised when hearing the name Webber, is whether he can keep up with his team mate Vettel, the Australian must have heard it dozens of times, for now, we’ll leave this question unanswered and let Webber’s racing do the talking.

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Red Bull’s test results were certainly not something to write home about, they also encountered some reliability issues, but Vettel wasn’t too concerned after his last test day in Barcelona. “We’re in good enough shape I think. Overall testing has been good for us and we didn’t have too many problems,” Vettel said.

And he added, “If you sum up all three tests I think all the teams were linked in to what the tyres could do and at times it was extremely difficult to read the set-up changes and find a direction because the tyres were always pretty challenging.”

Webber is of course looking forward to his home Grand Prix, “I think we’ve done well and we have made a step forward. As I’ve said before it’s very difficult to see a real pecking order. We’ve just always been focused on what we have to do and not really looked too hard at anyone else.”

But there are some technical issues which have to be addressed, and Webber added, “We have some work to do, for sure, and we have a few things we need to iron out, but that’s the same for everybody.” And indeed, it must be said, last year Red Bull had a slow start, but as soon as designer Adrian Newey got to grips with the problems, Vettel was unstoppable and after the Italian Grand Prix won four successive races, which in the end, opened the door to winning his third successive World Championship.

Red Bull’s launch story and photos

Ferrari

3. Fernando Alonso
4. Felipe Massa

Again clemency for Felipe Massa after a disastrous 2012 campaign, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo signed the Brazilian for yet another year with the Reds, as he didn’t want to disturb the balance within the team by hiring another driver.

Ferrari were poised to not make the same mistake as last year, when they were playing catch-up almost all season long. Despite the many problems, magician Alonso managed to win three races last year, but he feels this season the car will be better than ever. “I’m confident I can start the season with a better car than the one we had in the first few months of last year,” Alonso said.

Felipe Massa testing the F138 at Barcelona - Photo: Ferrari

Felipe Massa testing the F138 at Barcelona – Photo: Ferrari

“It was actually in the early races that we lost decisive points, when we had a car that was only good enough for seventh,” he explained. “Last year was the best year of my career and I was very happy with the performance but I think we will do better because I have prepared better and I am more motivated than last year.”

Asked what he expects from Massa he said, “He and I have always helped one another, day by day and I expect him to always be very close to me in terms of performance: what was not normal was the difference between us over the past two years, but now I don’t think that will be the case. That will be a very positive factor for me and especially for the team.”

Team Principal Stefano Domenicali is adamant Ferrari will be fighting for the title until the very last race. He expects to be on the podium in Melbourne, “Unless someone else has done an exceptional job I’m convinced that Ferrari will be in the battle to the end,” said the Italian. “A podium in Australia would be a good base on which to build the kind of successes we need.”

And he added, “For many reasons, however, Melbourne can be considered an important test bench to establish the state of play. I expect that the teams who finished in the top positions in Sao Paulo will repeat that in Melbourne, probably with a reduced advantage — that’s what we are all hoping for, anyway.”

Ferrari’s launch story and photos

Force India

14. Paul di Resta
15. Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil must be the happiest driver on the start grid of the Australian Grand Prix, he returned to his former team after his legal problems with Genii CEO Eric Lux after a bar fight in Shanghai, China. “I’m delighted to be back in Formula One, especially with a team I know so well,” said the German.

Paul di Resta, overlooked by the big teams - Photo: Force India

Paul di Resta, overlooked by the big teams – Photo: Force India

“Having been away from the sport, I’m even more determined to achieve my goals in Formula One. Things went really well at the Barcelona test last week and it almost feels as though I’ve never been away.”

Paul di Resta’s job was never in doubt, and he is aiming for a podium position this season. He strongly feels he has been ‘overlooked’ by the big teams, and is determined to show what he’s worth. “I certainly want a podium and then I want to be on it again. That’s the target.”

“But”, he said, “I don’t want to luck-in to a podium. For me it has to be a well-earned top-three finish, one which we can build on. We need to do it on merit, and I certainly believe it’s achievable.” And he added, “If we can do that, then we can push for podiums and, hopefully, move from seventh in the constructors’ championship to fifth. That’s the team goal, and it’s one I believe we can achieve together.”

Force India’s launch story and photos

Williams

16. Pastor Maldonado
17. Valtteri Bottas

Williams were the surprise of 2012, after years of misery and mishaps, the team led by Sir Frank Williams, won the Spanish Grand Prix after Pastor Maldonado qualified in second place and outsmarted Alonso during the race. A victory after eight lean years, and Sir Frank was of course happy with his Venezuelan driver, but he was less happy with the performance of Bruno Senna, who was dumped in favour of Valtteri Bottas.

Valtteri Bottas - Photo: Williams

Valtteri Bottas – Photo: Williams

But Maldonado has no doubts he can win another race for Williams. In an interview with ESPN he said, “We are fighting with mega teams and maybe we don’t have everything to be winning the championships, but I think we are going to win some races and we can be very competitive. I don’t know if we can be at a very high level all through the year, but we are doing our best with the tools we have in the factory to do a good car.”

Rookie Bottas is ready for the first Formula One race of his career, “It feels incredible to be driving in Formula One and to be with a team like Williams, with all its pedigree, is even more special. I’ve worked hard to get here ever since I started karting at six years old, but the real work starts now as I prepare myself for the biggest challenge of my career.”

After the final test day he said, “Overall, it has been a productive winter test and I’ve achieved what I wanted to from it. The car has been really reliable and now I feel fully prepared for the start of the season.”

Williams’ launch story and photos

Caterham

20. Charles Pic
21. Giedo van der Garde

Caterham took a gamble this season by signing rookie Giedo van der Garde, while the experienced Heikki Kovalainen was ousted in favour of Charles Pic, who will start his second full Formula One season after his rookie season with Marussia. Both drivers were successful in the GP2 feeder series, but Formula One is of course something quite different.

Rookie Giedo van der Garde - Photo: Caterham F1

Rookie Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1

Pic said after the recent test days at Jerez and Barcelona, “It was also important to use the tests to familiarise myself with the whole team. I’ve really enjoyed working with everyone — there’s a good atmosphere inside the team and we’re realistic about what we can achieve this year so we’ll go into the season with a good spirit and aim to take advantage of anything that comes our way when the races start.”

Dutchman van der Garde saw his dream finally come true, “I know I am ready to take the step up to Formula One and all the work I have done throughout my career, and particularly in the last year with this team, has brought me to my ultimate goal.”

Team principal Cyril Abiteboul, who took over from Tony Fernandes, will no longer be satisfied with tenth place in the Constructors’ Championship, “We can’t satisfy ourselves anymore by being the best of the new teams,” he said. “I think we need to be doing better than that and we need to demonstrate that we can be doing better than that.”

Caterham launch story and photos

Marussia

22. Jules Bianchi
23. Max Chilton

Marussia originally signed Brazilian Luiz Razia, but his contract was shredded after his Brazilian sponsors let him down, and Marussia signed Jules Bianchi instead. Marussia was clear about the 2013 season: they had to hire to pay drivers to survive, and that was the reason why Timo Glock suddenly left the team.

Max Chilton - Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton – Photo: Marussia F

Team Principal John Booth said about the 2013 season, “We embark on the first real test of 2013 feeling very positive about our new car — the MR02 — and what lies ahead in this next important chapter in the development of the Marussia F1 Team.”

“The incremental steps we were taking in the latter half of last season gave us the confidence to not only fight hard for 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship, but to feel encouraged by our overall design direction.” And Marussia have already made progress during testing, it seems they are faster than Caterham this year, much to the delight of Booth.

“Overall I think we have achieved as much preparation as possible to take us into the opening race in Melbourne. Max [Chilton] has a bit of everything under his belt after so much time in the car across a variety of conditions and set-ups. Jules [Bianchi] has done a good job in the limited amount of time he has had in the MR02. I’m not sure we could have asked any more of either of them.”

Marussia’s launch story and photos

Tomorrow part 2: McLaren, Mercedes, Lotus, Sauber and Toro Rosso


Grosjean fastest for Lotus on second day of final Barcelona test


By Berthold Bouman

Grosjean fastest for Lotus on second day of final Barcelona test - Photo: Lotus F1Romain Grosjean was fastest today for Lotus on the second day of the final Barcelona pre-season test days with a time of 1m22.716, in the morning the Frenchman caused a red flag as his Lotus came to an unexpected halt on the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.

He was slowest yesterday and said about his last day of testing, “Even though the weather was far from ideal it was a pretty good day for us and it’s certainly a better feeling to end the session with the fastest time on the board rather than the slowest!”

Like yesterday, he remained optimistic ahead of the opening round in Melbourne, “We had strong reliability again today and the E21 feels good in all conditions, which is very promising for the season ahead. Of course, I wish I could have more time in the car before the season starts, but if we’re in the same position on the monitors when we get to Australia I’ll be very happy indeed.”

Although it was drier than yesterday, the weather again affected the test programmes today, most teams wanted to test the so-called Melbourne configuration, the configuration of the car as it will be on the grid for the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, which will take place in two weeks’ time.

Grosjean beat Jenson Button in the McLaren MP4-28 by 0.465s, Grosjean set his time on the soft Pirellis, Button on the mediums. McLaren tested a number of different set-up configurations, and in the afternoon evaluated technical upgrades during longer runs.

Pastor Maldonado - Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado – Photo: Williams F1

Third was Pastor Maldonado in the Williams FW35, he was nine-tenth of a second slower than pace setter Grosjean. “I had a good feeling in the car but we still have things we can improve,” said Maldonado. “This afternoon we were able to complete some aero evaluations, with particular focus on trying some different front wings. We now have enough data to make some decisions on that, so I’m looking forward to getting some dry running in over the weekend.”

Triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel was fourth for Red Bull after completing 65 laps in the RB9. “I didn’t do that many laps today, but to be honest the weather wasn’t great and it was a pretty rough day in terms of the wind,” said Vettel. “It’s very cold as well. The tyres aren’t really working properly and I think everybody is suffering the same problem, struggling to make the tyres last for more than a lap,” he added.

Nico Hulkenberg was fifth fastest today in the new Sauber, he too experienced problems due to the weather, “It was a difficult day with changing track conditions, and it was very windy as well. This made it very challenging to do precise testing and get perfect results, but I think we made the best out of it and gathered a lot of data which the engineers can now analyse. I’m satisfied with the pace we had in dry conditions, however, we need to do more work on the intermediate tyres.”

Daniel Ricciardo in the garage - Photo: Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo in the garage – Photo: Toro Rosso

Returnee Adrian Sutil felt at home in the Force India VJM06 and took sixth spot after completing 62 laps. “I ran the full wets, the intermediates and it was good to discover the crossover point with the slick tyres,” he said. “I only ran the medium compound dry tyres today, but it was difficult to do too much set-up work because the wind was affecting the aero balance quite a lot. Overall I felt positive today and whenever I went out on track the lap times were competitive.”

Daniel Ricciardo was in the car for Toro Rosso and took seventh place, while Max Chilton was eighth for Marussia. Further down the order was Dutchman Giedo van der Garde in the Caterham, he had technical problems at the end of his stint and caused a red flag after his car stopped on the Spanish circuit.

“We had a technical issue that cut into our run plan so we switched from the full race simulation we were going to run to more set-up work and tyre evaluation. Unfortunately the rain came back again with half an hour to go, which again meant we had to change the plan but the forecast for the last couple of days is better so hopefully we can get back to the original run plan and finish the tests as we’d planned,” reported van der Garde.

Max Chilton on the full wet Pirellis - Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton on the full wet Pirellis – Photo: Marussia F1

Nico Rosberg did a full race simulation in the Mercedes today, and therefore didn’t set a representative time, the German landed tenth place and commented, “It was great to run in the wet today which I have not done so far during our pre-season testing programme. The car felt good in those conditions and it’s important to have had this experience as there is always the chance of rain in Melbourne.”

And he added, “I am happy with my mileage today as every single lap is important for the learning process, and so overall it was a positive day for me here in Montmelo.”

Fernando Alonso also tried a full race simulation, his efforts were also  hampered by the rain in Barcelona, and the Spaniard was 11th and last after completing 102 laps. Ferrari tested a new exhaust configuration, new front wing end plates and a new diffuser.

Barcelona testing Day 2 – March 1

Pos  Driver              Team            Time       Gap        Laps
 1.  Mark Webber         Red Bull        1m22.693               90
 2.  Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes        1m24.348   + 1.655    113
 3.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso      1m25.017   + 2.324     59
 4.  Valtteri Bottas     Williams        1m26.458   + 3.765     85
 5.  Sergio Perez        McLaren         1m26.538   + 3.845    100
 6.  Esteban Gutierrez   Sauber          1m26.574   + 3.881     92
 7.  Paul di Resta       Force India     1m27.107   + 4.414     57
 8.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari         1m27.541   + 4.848    112
 9.  Max Chilton         Marussia        1m28.166   + 5.473     78
10.  Charles Pic         Caterham        1m28.644   + 5.951     83
11.  Romain Grosjean     Lotus           1m34.928   + 12.235    52

Susie Wolff to star in BBC documentary about her life in the fast lane


By Berthold Bouman

Susie Wolff to star in BBC documentary about her life in the fast lane - Photo: Williams F1Williams development driver Susie Wolff is the star of a BBC documentary about her life as a racing driver, currently she’s the only female driver in in the pinnacle of motorsport: Formula One.

Wolff is very likely to become the next female Formula One driver, the documentary, ‘The fastest woman in the world,’ follows her career in a male dominated sport.

A statement on her website read, “Directed by her award-winning, BAFTA-nominated brother David Stoddart, 31, the no-holds-barred film will be broadcast as part of BBC Scotland’s spring schedule, and features appearances from Formula One race ace Lewis Hamilton and racing legend David Coulthard.”

Wolff, from Oban in Scotland, commented, “Shooting the film was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m a fairly private person, so to have my brother follow me for nine months, through some pretty difficult times — let’s just say it was a big challenge.”

Her brother David agreed, “It was tough combining the role of documentary maker and brother. You have to remember you’re there to film Susie’s story, but during the more difficult moments your instinct as a brother kicks in. It was challenging at times to strike the balance, but it’s a great story that needed to be told.”

And he added, “Susie was very open and honest, and I’m enormously grateful to her for that, and for giving me a rare glimpse into life in Formula One.”

Susie Wolff is development driver for the Williams F1 team - Photo: Williams F1

Susie Wolff is development driver for the Williams F1 team – Photo: Williams F1

Wolff started her race career — like most drivers — in karting when she was eight. In 2003 Wolff was one of the finalists of the prestigious BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award. She’s married to Toto Wolff, who left his job at Williams earlier this year to become Mercedes’ Head of Motorsport.

Wolff starred in the German touring car championship (DTM) for seven years, she drove for Mucke Motorsport and later for Persson Motorsport. At the end of the 2012 season she announced she would retire from the DTM series to prepare for her role as Formula One driver.

About her racing career she said, “I don’t race to prove how good women can be against men. I race because it’s my passion and I hope this documentary will give an insight into a very competitive world, in which I’ve been racing since I was a young girl.”

Last woman to participate in a Formula One race was Italian Lella Lombardi. Wolff is now the only female driver in Formula One, as Maria de Villota’s career abruptly ended after a crash at the Duxford Aerodrome while testing for the Marussia Formula One team.

‘The Fastest Woman in the World’ will premiere on BBC2 Scotland in spring.


Formula One exhausts: Henri Coandã must be laughing in his grave


By Berthold Bouman

Formula One exhausts: Henri Coandã must be laughing in his graveSome great inventors were already a legend during their lifetime, others, like aerodynamicist Romanian Henri Coandã, became famous after they died and therefore never saw much of the fruits of their labour. The ‘Coandã effect’ is the magic word in Formula One today, as teams are searching for means to control the airflow under the car.

The FIA has banned the practice of using exhaust gases to boost the effect of the rear diffuser, two years ago Lotus even moved the exhaust outlets to the front of the side pods, where the gases were mixed with the airflow under the car.

Controlling that airflow is important as it generates most of the downforce for the rear of a Formula One car. By using the exhaust gases and the Coandã effect, the Formula One boffins now created a curtain of air (the exhaust gases) between the inner wall of the rear tyre and the rear-wing end plate, in such a way that the air under the car is trapped and can only escape through the rear diffuser.

According to Wikipedia, “The Coandã effect is the tendency of a fluid jet to be attracted to a nearby surface. Coandã used it for his Coandã -1910 aircraft which mounted an unusual engine designed by Coandã. The motor-driven turbine pushed hot air rearward, and Coandã noticed that the airflow was attracted to nearby surfaces. He discussed this matter with leading aerodynamicist Theodore von Kármán who named it the Coandã effect.”

The VZ-9 AV Avrocar - Photo: Wikimedia

The VZ-9 AV Avrocar – Photo: Wikimedia

It is used in a variety of applications, the most famous being the Avro ‘flying saucer’ built in 1958. The VZ-9 AV Avrocar was a Canadian vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft developed by Avro Aircraft Ltd. as part of a secret U.S. military project carried out in the early years of the Cold War. Two prototypes were built as test vehicles, the project remained classified until 2012.

In a traditional hovercraft design, the air is blown into a central area and directed down with the use of a fabric or rubber ‘skirt’. The Avrocar was in fact an ‘inside out’ hovercraft-like aircraft from which the air exited in a ring around the outside of the aircraft and was directed by being ‘attached’ to a flap-like ring.

That same ‘curtain’ of air is now used in Formula One cars as well, while it is also used in aircrafts and helicopters, in modern helicopters the mechanical tail rotor is replaced by a controllable air jet to provide the anti-torque necessary to prevent the helicopter from spinning around the axis of its main rotor.

Coandã was an aerodynamics pioneer and inventor, he died in 1972 at the age of 86, not knowing that the effect named after him, would, more than 40 years later, cause so much turbulence in the world of Formula One.

The latest controversy surrounding the Coandã effect, was sparked by the design of the Williams exhaust outlets, regulations say the outlet has to have one aperture, however, in an effort to further control the airflow, Williams Technical Director Mike Coughlan has come up with a solution that, at first glance, divides the outlet in two apertures. But examined closely, the piece that divides the airflow has a small gap in it, which would make it legal.

The Williams 'solution', exhaust outlet is still one aperture - Photo: Williams

The Williams solution, exhaust outlet is still one aperture – Photo: Williams

Coughlan said, “Ours is OK, because if you look at ours it’s actually not a single piece it’s two pieces. The rule is an aperture size, and ours is an aperture size; ours is one aperture because it’s joined by a small piece in the middle.” And he added, “You’re governed by total aperture size, but singular aperture, and ours is a single aperture joined by a very small slot. So it’s actually two pieces, if you look closely you’ll see.”

ESPN today reported Williams ‘are now seeking further clarification on this and a decision as to whether this design will be carried forward will be made before the first race.’

To be continued …


Williams launches FW35 – team to maximise gains of Coanda effect


By Berthold Bouman

Williams launches FW35 - team to maximise gains of Coanda effect - Photo: Williams F1Williams was the last team to launch their 2013 contender at the Circuit de Catalunya, Spain, today. The FW35 is an evolution of its predecessor, but according to a statement, it has a new gearbox, new rear suspension, new radiators, a new floor, new exhausts, new bodywork, a new nose, and the car is a lot lighter as well.

As there have not been any significant regulation changes, Williams Technical Director Mike Coughlan has had a relatively easy job. “I’m pleased with the gains that we’ve been able to make with this car. It’s a better, more refined Formula One car than the FW34 and I think everyone involved in the project can feel proud of the work they’ve done,” said Coughlan.

Coughlan also said Williams will during the season explore the benefits of the Coanda effect. “The Coanda effect is going to be a big thing for us,” he said, and added, “There’s been no rule clarification concerning this area of the car, so we’ll work closely with Renault to maximise the available gains. Use of the DRS is more restricted this year, so we’ll take some resource away from that and focus on other areas.”

Sir Frank Williams was proud to present his new car, but was cautious about the expectations of the FW35, “We will have to wait until Australia to truly see what we have, but we believe it is step forward from last year’s car which was also a very competitive vehicle.”

He nevertheless remained optimistic about the forthcoming season, “I’m hoping that with the current team we have in place, our new FW35, the combined talent of Pastor [Maldonado], Valtteri [Bottas] and Susie [Wolff], and the continued support from our partners; we will be in a position to challenge the very best.”

All Photos: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado is ready for his third season with the British outfit, and he’s confident the FW35 will be competitive, and even thinks about winning more races, “Last year we won a race and were competitive, but this season we must be even more competitive which I believe is possible. Consistency will be our aim to close the gap to the teams in front.”

And he added, “Being part of the Williams family is very special as a driver and I want to thank Frank [Williams] for not only giving me the opportunity to drive for him, but also to deliver a win. My goal is to help take the team back to the top.”

Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas will make his Formula One debut this season, and he’s looking forward to his first Grand Prix for Williams. “I have been doing a lot of training, meeting with my engineers and working in the simulator in preparation; so I feel ready. We know we have improved our car from last season but I am looking forward to seeing how it compares on track. We have a busy test programme ahead but I’m really excited,” he said, adding, “The moment the start lights go out in Melbourne is a moment I have been building towards my whole career.”

Development driver Susie Wolff is actually the only one who has already had a taste of what the FW35 is like before the official launch, as she did the initial shake-down at Idiada. “Being the first to get behind the wheel of the FW35 at Idiada was a real honour. It was a special feeling to drive the FW35 out of the garage for the first time and successfully complete its first kilometres in front of many of the team who have put so much effort into the design and build,” she commented.

Today is the first day of, in total, eight days of testing at the Barcelona circuit, the first four days are scheduled for this week, the next and final four days of testing take place from February 28 to March 3.


Formula One 2013 – Pay drivers still in the hot seat


By Berthold Bouman

Formula One 2013 - Paying drivers still in the hot seat - Photo: MarussiaPaying for a drive in Formula One, rather than being paid, is as old as the sport itself, even Niki Lauda paid for his first Formula One race in 1972. Being labelled as a pay driver is a stigma, but as a result of the economic recession — which has also hit Formula One hard — the pay driver has made a prominent return to the sport.

German Nico Hulkenberg, now driving for Sauber, was famously ousted by Frank Williams at the end of 2010 to make way for Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, who brought with him the money of  the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA. He was labelled a pay driver, and many said that Maldonado had more money than talent.

But he in fact saved the Williams team, as many sponsors had left the Grove-based outfit at the end of 2010 and Sir Frank really didn’t have any another option. Luckily for Sir Frank and his team, Maldonado proved to be a talented driver, as he not only won the GP2 championship in 2010, but also gave Williams their first victory in eight years when he won the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.

After his victory Sir Frank said to the many pay driver sceptics, “He [Maldonado] did a great job, he’s a very happy boy, he deserves to be. He fully deserves to be in the team with or without the dosh. The truth is that if you haven’t got the dosh you can’t go Formula One racing.” And that is of course to what it all boils down to, the dosh.

Heikki Kovalainen - Photo: Caterham F1

Heikki Kovalainen – Photo: Caterham F1

Last year Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen said, “Caterham know that they’ll need to pay to keep me next season. I consider Tony [Fernandes, team owner] a good friend but he’s a businessman and he has to do what’s best for his business and, if that means bringing in a paying driver, then that’s life. But I’d rather be out of Formula One than be paying to drive.”

These proved to be Kovalainen’s famous last words, as Caterham hired two pay drivers for 2013, Frenchman Charles Pic, who has the support of Renault, and Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, who brought wealthy sponsor McGregor with him.

Timo Glock left the Marussia team because they couldn’t afford to pay him, now Max Chilton and Luiz Razia will be racing for Marussia this season, again thanks to the many sponsors they have brought with them. A tricky situation, as both drivers have very little experience in Formula One, and Marussia’s future, in fact, depends on them.

Max Chilton - Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton – Photo: Marussia F1

Chilton acknowledged it will be a difficult season not only for Marussia, but also for him. “It is not ideal and we will sometimes have a hard time. I had been looking forward to being Timo’s team mate, because of his vast experience,” he recently said. About pay drivers he commented, “Unless we were all capable, we would not be in Formula One.”

Mexican Sergio Perez was hired by Sauber because of his sponsorship, he has now moved on to McLaren, and was replaced by his compatriot Esteban Gutierrez, who also has an impressive sponsor portfolio. Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn defended her team’s choice to give the seat to Gutierrez, “Everybody who comes into Formula One is on a high level and if there are only a limited number of seats, then of course every team is looking for the best option. Who wouldn’t?”

Toto Wolff, who is now Mercedes’ Head of Motorsport, agrees with Kaltenborn and Chilton, “The classic pay driver was one who was clearly under performing but had a big budget,” he said. “There are no drivers who are clearly under performing. Most have either won championships before, or races, there is no one who is a waste of time. You simply can’t afford to put a complete loser in the car who is two seconds off the pace because it is going to hit you hard in the long-term.”

But McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh, is clearly not a fan of pay drivers. “For me, personally I think it’s sad there are so many pay drivers in Formula One. The numbers have crept up,” said Whitmarsh. “I’m sure it’s good and exciting for those that can afford it, but you would hope in the premier form of motor racing worldwide, you would not have pay drivers.”

Esteban Gutierrez - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

And he added, “That means there are some good young, professional drivers who can’t get in and aren’t getting in.” Some of the pay drivers shouldn’t even be in Formula One said Whitmarsh, “It’s sad to say, but the reason that some of those guys are pay drivers, not all of them, but the reason that some are pay drivers is because they are actually and fundamentally not good enough to be in Formula One.”

But he understands why teams need pay drivers, “It’s difficult in Formula One for us to say to some of these teams ‘you can’t have pay drivers’. Sadly, they have become an important constituent of their budget, so I wouldn’t want to condemn them.”

And indeed, these drivers contribute to their team’s budget, and without them they wouldn’t survive. The Spanish HRT racing team ceased to exist as it became increasingly more difficult to find enough money for another season in Formula One. HRT also had in their short existence a long history of pay drivers, but that still wasn’t enough to survive.

Formula One has now become the survival of the financially fittest, and inevitably, if no action is taken, more teams will not survive. Although they deny they have financial problems, Marussia is dancing on the edge of the volcano, if they don’t improve their performance, they will not score any points this season and will not get any money from the sports commercial owners, and Formula One could lose another team next year.

Giedo van der Garde - Photo: Caterham F1

Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1

FOM CEO Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t really care, he would be satisfied with only ten teams on the grid, “I’d rather have ten [teams], I never wanted 12. It’s just that ten is easier to handle, for the promoters, for transport. We’d rather have ten … so long as we don’t lose Ferrari.”

It seems former FIA President Max Mosley’s efforts to give other teams a chance in Formula One by restricting the spending of the existing teams, has become a failure. Current FIA President Jean Todt has shelved the RRA (Resource Restriction Agreement), which means the big teams like Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, still spend ten times more than the smaller teams.

Ecclestone already said in 2011 the RRA was doomed from the start, “I think it was probably dead before it started. It is very, very difficult for all these people who are competing with each other to agree [on] anything that’s going to stop their ability to win.”


Susie Wolff to expand her role as development driver for Williams


By Berthold Bouman

Susie Wolff to expand her role as development driver for Williams - Photo: Williams F1The Williams Formula One team confirmed Susie Wolff will continue her role as development driver for the Grove-based team, and her level of involvement will even be increased in 2013. Wolff joined the team led by Sir Frank Williams in April 2012 and she spent a lot of time in the team’s simulator to develop the FW35, Williams’ 2013 contender.

Wolff will also do more in-car testing this season, and will be the first to drive the FW35 at Idiada next month, and will do the majority of the aerodynamic testing this season. Mike Coughlan, Williams’ Technical Director commented about Wolff and her role within the Williams team, “Susie has proved herself to be a valuable addition to our driver roster and her feedback during simulator sessions is second to none.”

And he added, “As a result we will be stepping up her role this year and I’m looking forward to the progress we can make with Susie’s input in conjunction with that of Pastor [Maldonado] and Valtteri [Bottas].”

Susie Wolff to expand her role as development driver for Williams - Photo: Williams F1

Susie Wolff – Photo: Williams F1

Wolff said in a Williams statement, “I really enjoy my time working with Williams and feel very much at home here. Last year was a valuable experience and I certainly feel that I’ve developed a lot as a driver.”

About stepping up her role as development driver she said, “Increasing my role this year will further this progression and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the FW35 for the first time next month.”

“I’m showing that women can play a role at the top-level of motorsport and would like to thank Sir Frank Williams and the whole of the technical team for the trust they continue to show in me.”

Susie Wolff-Stoddart was active in the German DTM touring car championship for seven years before she decided to move to Williams. In 2003 she won the BRDC Rising Star of the Year Award, and was nominated for the BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award in 2003 and 2004.


Toto Wolff joins new Mercedes Formula One management team


By Berthold Bouman

Toto Wolff joins new Mercedes F1 management teamMercedes today announced Toto Wolff will join the Mercedes Formula One team, and together with Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda he will be guiding the team to more success. The Austrian entrepreneur will acquire ‘a significant minority interest’ in the German team, according to a Mercedes statement.

Mercedes announced triple World Champion Lauda will also acquire a stake in the German Silver Arrows team. Wolff’s arrival is part of the reorganisation of the Mercedes F1’s management team. Wolff will become executive director of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd, and will replace Norbert Haug, who left at the end of 2012 as he was held responsible for the lack lustrous past three seasons.

Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars and Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG said in a statement, “As an entrepreneur, investor and motorsport manager, Toto Wolff has proven that this sport runs in his blood; at the same time, he is also well aware of the economic necessities of the business. With Toto Wolff, we have gained for our Formula One team not only an experienced motorsport specialist, but also a long-standing enthusiast of the Mercedes-Benz brand.”

Toto Wolff joins new Mercedes F1 management team - Photo: Williams F1

Toto Wolff joins new Mercedes F1 management team – Photo: Williams F1

“Together with him and Niki Lauda, we will further develop our motorsport activities and guide our Silver Arrows into the next era.”

Wolff, who will retain his shares in the Williams Formula One team, commented about this new challenge, “Mercedes is one of the most important participants in motorsport worldwide. I am not only a big fan, but also a longstanding friend and enthusiast of the brand. I am looking forward to the challenge and, along with preparing for a successful racing season, also want to focus on the targeted promotion of new talent.”

“I am leaving Williams on good terms and I will miss the team and friends I have made there. I’d also like to wish Frank and the whole of Williams the best of luck for the future”, Wolff added.


Formula One 2012: The ups and downs of the Williams team


By Berthold Bouman

Formula One 2012 The ups and downs of the Williams teamThe biggest surprise of the season was, without a doubt, the resurgence of the Williams team. After a disastrous 2011 campaign Sir Frank Williams decided to overhaul the whole technical department of his team, and also decided to switch from the Cosworth engine to the very fast and reliable Renault engine.

He also hired Formula One spy-gate sinner Mike Coughlan and made him Technical Director, Pastor Maldonado was still very welcome as he brought many millions of dollars to the team, and Williams hired Bruno Senna as second driver.

Maldonado proved to be a regular top ten qualifier, but Senna only once made it into the top ten, which was disappointing to say the least. During the first race of the season the Williams car seemed promising as Maldonado had advanced to sixth place during the Australian Grand Prix, but he made a small mistake on the penultimate lap, crashed hard, and finished in 13th instead of sixth place.

The Malaysian, Chinese and Bahrain Grands Prix didn’t bring the Williams team much fortune either, but when Maldonado was promoted to pole-sitter of the Spanish Grand Prix — after McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton ran out of fuel after his qualifying lap and was demoted to 24th and last place — all eyes were on the Williams team.

Maldonado initially lost the lead on the Circuit de Catalunya to Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, but after an epic battle with the Spaniard he regained the lead again and went on to win the Spanish Grand Prix, giving Sir Frank his first victory in eight years.

Maldonado wins the Spanish GP - Photo: Williams F1
“It’s an unbelievable feeling winning my first race,” Maldonado reported after the race. “Alonso was chasing me hard but we looked after our tyres well and I managed to open the gap towards the end. The team has worked so hard all year and this win is for them. To be the first Venezuelan to win a Formula One race is a big honour and hopefully I will win more races in the future.”

Until then, Maldonado had been labelled as a pay-driver, with more money than talent, but after his maiden victory Sir Frank said, “He did a great job, he’s a very happy boy, he deserves to be. He fully deserves to be in the team with or without the dosh. The truth is that if you haven’t got the dosh you can’t go Formula One racing.”

But after the triumph, there was the tragedy. A fire broke out in the Williams garage during a victory speech of Sir Frank just an hour after the race, seven Formula One personnel were taken to hospital, a total of 31 personnel were injured by the blaze but most of them could be treated by the doctors present at the medical centre of the Circuit de Catalunya.

It was a very narrow escape, but it was time to move on, as Williams now thought they could win more races with the car designed by Coughlan and his team. But it didn’t happen, not for Maldonado, nor for Senna.

Although Maldonado regularly qualified in the top ten, he was involved too many times in silly do-or-die overtaking manoeuvres and other on-track incidents which cost him dearly as he received numerous grid penalties and was also officially reprimanded by the FIA Stewards and received a 10,000 Euro fine after he had taken out Sergio Perez during the British Grand Prix. In fact, he didn’t score one single point until the Japanese Grand Prix in October.

The same applied to Senna, the highlight of his season was the Malaysian Grand Prix in March, where he finished sixth and collected eight points. He was also involved in too many accidents, which all can be attributed to being too inexperienced, or being too eager.

Williams had a very fast car in 2012, but their drivers did not have the patience or experience to regularly score points. Both gentleman threw away at least some 50 points each, therefore Williams finished the season in seventh place of the Constructors’ Championship, Maldonado was 15th, and Senna 16th in the Drivers’ Championship.

Williams 2012 is the story of missed opportunities, the one victory didn’t bring the team back to the top, and after the Spanish Grand Prix everything went downhill again. Senna will be replaced by the talented Valtteri Bottas in 2013, but Williams first and foremost should give their drivers more guidance and personal coaching in 2013, to avoid another disappointing season, a season that started so well.