Mike Coughlan says Williams has right ingredients to produce successful F1 car
|By Pablo Elizalde||Friday, December 16th 2011, 11:45 GMT|
Williams's technical director Mike Coughlan believes the team has identified all the key elements to ensure it can now build a successful car every year after struggling during the 2011 season.
The Grove-based squad had endured its worst campaign in Formula 1 this year, having scored just five points on its way to ninth place in the championship.
Coughlan has taken over as technical director following Sam Michael's exit.
Coughlan believes Williams has all the right ingredients to return to the sharp end of the field, and he is confident the team is now moving in the right direction after the struggles of 2011.
"The facilities here are absolutely first-rate, and the only thing we haven't done is utilised them correctly," said Coughlan in the team's official magazine.
"There has been a forensic look at what we've been doing wrong and where we need to improve, and we've come to the conclusion that some strategic errors were made in the past.
"We've identified the key elements we need to put in place, not just for next season but forever, to make a successful car every year.
"We need both performance and reliability as those factors in unison are what win you races and championships, and we feel that we're now moving in the right direction."
Coughlan is also optimistic the new car will be ready in time for the first test of 2012, with an upgraded version making its debut in the final test before the start of the new season.
"The car is slated to be delivered to the race shop in mid-January and we'll be ready to go to the first test in early February," he said.
"The aim is that by the end of January, all the parts that can possibly have been verified have been, and the track testing is purely a verification of that work.
"There should be enough mileage on the major parts so that if the car stops on track with a fundamental problem, it comes as a surprise. Other than that the testing will focus on improving reliability and the overall aerodynamic performance of the car."
He added: "As we stand at the moment our gearbox and engine installation programme has finished and been tested on the dyno, and will run twice more before Christmas to have covered in excess of 6,000km. All of the rear suspension has been completed so we'll also run that as well.
"The first chassis is completed with a second one not far behind, and we'll shortly start our FIA crash test programme, and all of those tests have been passed already in private testing.
"We now have a fully-defined car that will be used for system checks, it has a reasonable improvement in downforce and will carry all of the systems that will enable us to go to the first test and be launched. Our aim is then to have an upgraded car for the final pre-season test."
Coughlan reckons the team's problems during the 2011 season were not exclusively down to the aerodynamics of the car, but also by the development route the outfit took during the course of the year.
"I don't think it's just aerodynamic, I think we made some decisions where effectively we gambled on something which would have cost us performance from a vehicle dynamics point of view, but which would have been outweighed by the aerodynamic gain," he said.
"That obviously didn't pay off - had it done so we would have looked much better this season. You've also got to take into account that the blown floor became more and more prevalent.
"We spent a lot of development time in the wind tunnel looking at how much time a blown floor might have gained us, but ultimately we couldn't blow the floor, so we could say in hindsight that time would have been better spent working on an un-blown floor.
It's a difficult one because you don't know at the outset what the gains will be, and a lot of time is spent getting to the answer, at which point it might turn out not to have been worth the effort."
The team has retained Pastor Maldonado for next year, with the second driver yet to be announced.