U m shortly after twelve o'clock the observers on the racetrack rubbed off Barcelona amazes the eyes. The Williams appeared on Thursday (February 23) for the first time at the top of the time classification. With the tires of the super soft compound, Pastor Maldonado once again filed more than two tenths of Nico Hülkenberg's previous weekly best time.
In the six test days before, the FW34 had never stood out with its fast times. 'Today we started working on the car's performance for the first time,' said Chief Engineer Mark Gillan with a sly smile that evening. The first result seemed to satisfy the Englishman.
Williams presents himself quickly and reliably
However, Williams does not lapse into euphoria. Last year Rubens Barrichello set the fastest time of the week in Jerez. At the start of the season, the speed was suddenly gone. 'Everything is better this year,' Maldonado said with certainty. 'The car is much more competitive. It reacts as you would expect. The times are constant and the technology reliable. We drive more than 100 laps every day. The engineers have a lot of data to analyze.'
On Thursday the new FW34 already completed its 3,000 test kilometers. Most of them were due to endless long runs. 'We first wanted to make sure the basics were right and that we understand the car completely,' explains Gillan. While the competition in Barcelona was already setting fast times, the Williams engineers were still busy with the basic work.
But you didn't get nervous. 'We have confidence. We have a program and we are going through it as planned.' It wasn't a special feeling for Maldonado either when he buckled on the extra-soft tires for the first time at midday and let out the fuel. 'I'm not excited until qualifying in Melbourne. Not a long day of testing.'
Renault engine brings noticeable improvement
The pilot has big plans this year. Not only the car has improved, but also himself. 'I know the team and the philosophy. I also know the car - it hasn't changed much. It's just faster. I know the tracks now. I'm just a lot more relaxed . '
The reasons for the faster car are simple. 'The new Renault engine is a noticeable improvement. And the car is simplebetter designed. It looks similar on the outside, but a lot has happened under the hood, 'explains Gillan. In the coming week of testing, Williams will bring another aero package to the car. Then the last weaknesses in slow corners should be eliminated p> The chief engineer already has a specific idea of where you currently stand compared to the competition. But he doesn't want to reveal much. 'It seems as if the entire field has moved closer together. It's going to be an uphill battle. We feel good and stick to our goals. If we make it into the top ten regularly, I would be happy. Then you can still see. '