Chinese Grand Prix – Williams’ Robert Kubica says his car feels a little different to how it drove in the first two race weekends of the year.
Williams, who are currently propping up the rear of the Formula 1 field, are currently trying to get on top of issues with their FW42, particularly on Robert Kubica’s side of the garage. Kubica has solidly trailed rookie teammate George Russell throughout the Australian and Bahrain GP weekends, and Kubica reported that there are some inconsistencies with his car compared to Russell’s aerodynamic data.
As a result, Williams did a comparison during last week’s Bahrain test, and have come up with new solutions including a different floor. This seems to have made some difference as, for the first time, Kubica finished ahead of Russell in both practice sessions on Friday in China.
“Generally, the car feels a bit different to the last two weekends so that is a good sign.” said Kubica. While he finished P18 and P19 in FP1 and FP2 respectively, the gap to the front has come down a little, with the Williams drivers less than three seconds a lap off the pace setting time. “Now we have to look at the data and see what to do but the balance is quite different to the previous two events. The characteristics of the car have changed, and it feels like it is responding differently.”
“It was a usual Friday. We were trying to understand some of the different characteristics of the Shanghai circuit and how our car copes.”
Russell, who is making his debut appearance in China, spent FP1 learning the track and ramping up his pace as he made use of the available track time. He said he enjoyed the race simulations more than the shorter runs: “It was my first time out in China, so it took a bit of getting used to the circuit. It was a fairly normal Friday; the long run pace seems better than the qualifying pace for me.
“I am struggling with the single lap, but it’s my first day and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We seem closer as a team to everybody else than the previous two races, so we are heading in the right direction. We have to make the most of it, keep pushing, understanding the car, and see what we can do tomorrow.“
Speaking about the new parts on the FW42 for this weekend, Senior Race Engineer Dave Robson said: “Although there is more analysis to complete this evening, early indications are that the new components are working well, and we will likely adopt at least some of them for the rest of this weekend. During FP2 we were able to turn our attention to tyre preparation in readiness for qualifying as both drivers got their first look at the qualifying tyre.”
“Both were reasonably happy with their runs, which gives us a good baseline on which to build during FP3. Long runs were decent with the car again proving reliable, allowing us to gain some valuable information on how to manage the tyres over the course of a race distance on the Shanghai International Circuit.”