On the eve of the post race test at the Hungaroring, f1technical.net’s Balazs Szabo talked with Williams’ performance engineer Jakob Andreasen about the team’s current development direction and its young driver development programme.
Seven Drivers’ Championship titles, nine Constructors’ Championship titles, 114 race victories, 128 pole positions and 133 fastest laps. The team which joined the Formula One field back in the 1977 Spanish GP has enjoyed many successful periods over its GP history.
However, the team with wealth of history and success has had a difficult season so far with fluctuating performance. The basis of the car has given hope on many occasions, but the team did not always manage to get the best out of its potential due to different reasons.
For the post-race in-season test at the Hungaroring, the now Paddy Lowe-led technical team decided to carry out various experimental work to turn the team’s fortunes around for the second half of the year.
“Really good, actually. We did lots of laps yesterday, “ Andreasen started his verdict on the in-season test.
“Whenever you do more than hundred lap, it is always good. We always target more than sometimes we can really do. That’s the nature of it. But I think we got through everything we wanted to. We’ve got lot of data. It was very-very positive. We learnt lots of things. With the testing, you can try much more, you can be more brave with your changes, you can be much more philosophical in terms of the setup to unlock the performance of the car.”
“Some of it is directly related to the next event, but the large part of it is directed at next year’s car and future development. So it is always a balance to try to find, we want performance for Spa and the remaining races.”
Young driver development programmes have become an important part of many teams’ operation over the past years.
Williams also has drivers in its line-up next to its official race drivers Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll. Paul di Resta is the official third driver who made a rare, but important appearance in race action in the last weekend’s Hungarian GP when he was asked to step in following Felipe Massa felt unwell and dizzy after the practice sessions. Gary Paffett is also contracted and serves simulator work for the successful British team.
The team founded by Sir Frank Williams and Sir Patrick Head has also some young talents in its cadetship which it intends to extend further later in the year. Andreasen is always delighted to work with new young drivers. The efficiency of the work with a young driver also depends on the step where he currently finds himself while climbing the single-seater ladder.
“I think it depends a lot on what kind of young driver, young development driver you have. For example today, Luca has one and half a year of GP3 experience. He is physically quite well-developed, F2 cars are physically demanding. It is never quite the same, so for example from Luca today, we expect a lot, actually. It is always a little bit of settling in time you need.“
“Quite often you spend a couple of runs to relax. So he knows the circuit, he knows what you need to do in the car because we have done some preparation work in the simulator. What he doesn’t know, it’s the tyres how they perform. So really, it is settling down, getting the first few runs, they are talented, they can drive. Once you got over the morning, the excitement, then it is down to work. It is not just teaching him, he is working for us.”
The engineer who also worked for McLaren and Force India previously also welcomes inputs from new drivers which can always open up new perspectives in the ceaseless fight of getting acquainted with the actual race car.
“I think you’re always taking something out of a driver. It is almost like a second opinion. Whenever you get an opinion on the car, it is always valuable. ”
F1 teams have been operating with much smaller staff during race weekends. The number of the operational staff is now limited in 60 while it was almost the double value a few years ago. However, It does not mean that teams cannot conduct work back in the factory.
In fact, every squad has a support team at its headquarters which makes live analysis on the measurement gained on the track.
“We do assist the race team during a race weekend and that can be in many form to support the race team live. 60 operational staff, that is everyone, (without) catering or marketing. Anybody who is working on the car, engineers, team managers, technicians. We think it is fantastic like football or cricket or any other sport where you have clear number of people. In the old year, it was more than a hundred people.”
In season-testing is also a good opportunity for young engineers and mechanics to leave the walls of the factory and work on the track which is always a much more stressful environment. It is an integral part of developing the future of the team.
“We can’t go testing now like we used to do. So the other thing is: had we developed new drivers, had we developed new engineers, new mechanics for the next generation and had we used the factory environment to get people experience virtually of trackside experience. It is not the same, you don’t get the heat, you don’t get as much of the excitement,” concluded Andreasen.