The Williams F1 Team finished fifth (Pastor) and eighth (Bruno) in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - the team's biggest points haul in the last few races – but it still came away from Yas Marina knowing there could have been more. Chief Operations Engineer Mark Gillan reflects on what was an exciting weekend of racing.
Describe your emotions after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: are you pleased to have scored 14 points, or disappointed not to have scored more? To be honest both. We are delighted to get 14 points and have both cars home in the points, but also equally frustrated as without the KERS failure, which occurred after the first safety car period, Pastor could have come home with much more and a podium was certainly achievable.
Pastor and Bruno were 1-2 through the speed trap in both qualifying and the race. Did that set-up choice cost them one-lap performance on Saturday afternoon? No, we tried higher downforce levels but felt that our choice was optimal for the race without compromising qualifying. Pastor's fourth quickest laptime in qualifying, coupled with our strong long run pace tends to support that view. The straight-line speed advantage also helped both drivers defend and attack throughout the race, although without KERS Pastor was primarily in defence mode.
Pastor only just made it into Q3 in qualifying, yet he went on to start the race from P3. What did you change on his car to improve his performance so dramatically? Pastor was very happy with the car all weekend. The Q2 time which got him through to Q3 was actually set on a used set of options, so when he got his new option run 'hooked-up' in Q3 it wasn't surprising that he was quite a bit quicker.
When were you first aware of Pastor's KERS failure in the race, and what did it cost him in terms of lap time? When you are running in clean air and without anyone trying to overtake you loosing KERS is typically a few tenths penalty in laptime. However without KERS you are very vulnerable to being overtaken by someone with both DRS and KERS, so Pastor was having to defend his position hard and this was costing him a lot of lap time.
Bruno was involved in a collision with Nico Hulkenburg at Turn 1. How much damage was his car carrying for the remainder of the race? The left hand side of Bruno's car took a reasonably hard impact, which damaged a number of our sensors and also the bodywork. The car stood up well to the impact and Bruno's pace was very good, although we had less live telemetry data on which to monitor the car's performance during the race.
How would you sum up tyre wear during the race? Could Pirelli have been more aggressive with their choice of tyre compounds at Yas Marina? Tyre wear was under control and yes, in hindsight, Pirelli could probably have been a bit more aggressive in their compound choice.
The all-new Circuit of the Americas is the next venue on the calendar. Having never visited the track before, how much of a step into the unknown is this race going to be? In terms of up front information, it will be a similar experience to what we had going to Delhi last year. Despite a relative lack of data, with the fidelity of the latest simulator tools we expect to get very close in our modelling to a decent start set-up.