The countdown begins
I have been reading MotorSport for for years than I care to remember and now I have my own column in this venerable publication.
They tell me that I can write on whatever subject I like every month, so I’ll be dipping into the past, present and even venturing into the future, in speculation.
With just over two months until the Formula 1 season stark again in Bahrain, we are preffy busy in Grove, working on the Williams FW33. Most of the supporting research has been done, and now we are designing the outer elements. The core chassis, suspension and transmission were designed months ago and are either complete or in manufacture.
Rubens Barrichello told the media that he thought the car looked radical, but I think it is just more adventurous than our 2010 car, and to move upwards in team order, it will need to be.
Red Bull have been the leaders in design for the last two years, and despite their achievements in 2009 and particularly 2010, we can expect them to be leaders in 2011. But with some performance-influencing parameters they were up against the limit of the regulations in 2010, so I expect a number of the other cars to look as racy.
All of us at Williams, and I think many of our loyal supporters, want to see Williams mixing it at the front again.
A team never knows how good their new car is going to be comparatively until all the teams start testing in February, and even then there can be some surprises in the first races. Usually by the third race in Malaysia they will have a good idea of how their car measures up.
It is a dangerous step to make predictions before the season, but I expect that Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari will continue to be strong, so it will be a question of which other teams can mix it with them.
We will be running an entirely Williams-developed KERS system, with a baffery storage cell. This is no reflection upon a flywheel system, such as we developed in 2008 for 2009, but it is difficult to package a flywheel system in a Formula 1 car with a 150+kg fuel tank. An F1 capacity baffery pack is made up of a number of small lithium-ion cells, and they can be packaged into a shape which is convenient, usually positioned under the centre of the fuel tank.
I have been asked whether we can win with a Cosworth engine, and my view is positive. The core engine is excellent, the only failure we had was in practice in the last race in Abu Dhabi, when a fixing in the trumpet tray became loose and was ingested.
Early in the year we had problems of excessive degradation with distance, but this was solved quickly, and otherwise the engine has become more sophisticated in drivability. At the start of the year it could be considered a bit ‘teenage’, but is now more mature without losing its bite.
On the driver front we are very happy to be continuing with Rubens, but unfortunately were not able to retain Nico Hulkenberg, who we think developed well over the year and deserves a seat on merit, his pole position in Brazil showing that he has good command of the car in slippery conditions. We hope to see him in a competing car in 2011.
Alongside Rubens will be Pastor Maldonado, who won the 2010 GP2 Championship with more victories than any previous champion. He comes with some financial support, but deserves his opportunity on merit.
There is no reason why the 2011 championship should not be as close and fascinating as in the previous season, but I have no doubt there will be some surprises, and we are determined to be one of them by moving upwards.
The countdown begins