Williams buoyed by Singapore speed

26 Sep

Williams F1’s chief operations engineer, Mark Gillan, says the Grove-based team is buoyed by the pace it showed at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix (23 Sept).

Pastor Maldonado stunned everybody by qualifying his Williams FW34 on the front-row of the grid alongside Lewis Hamilton and one-place ahead of the man many tipped for pole position, Sebastian Vettel.

Maldonado lost track position on the run to turn one but stood his ground against championship leader Fernando Alonso until, on lap 36, a hydraulic problem spelled the end of his race.

Bruno Senna in the sister Williams was also pacey. A collision with the wall in qualifying and a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change meant he started down in 22nd. But the Brazilian scythed his way up the order and was on for a points finish until an unconfirmed mechanical glitch brought his car to a halt on the final lap.

“It was an extremely frustrating weekend,” said Gillan. “It’s what I would call character building, with the high expectations following a front row qualification and fast race pace ultimately dashed due to a double DNF and a risky strategy call.”

But, while Maldonado was denied a potential podium result – his first points score since taking his maiden Formula One win at the Spanish Grand Prix in May – and Senna a strong points score, Gillian remains optimistic about Williams’s prospects for the remainder of the 2012 season.

“It gives us a tremendous amount of confidence,” Gillan continued. “We saw that the car was capable of qualifying on the front row and that the race pace was equally impressive. Both drivers did a very good job in the race, with Pastor fighting hard at the front and Bruno carving his way from the back into a points scoring position before having to retire the car.

He added: “The Singapore result was particularly painful so we are out to make amends and expect to be strong.”

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