Sam Michael Q&A

A few races ago Juan Pablo Montoya did not look like a championship contender, but after a remarkable run of 50 points in six races, he is just six points behind leader Michael Schumacher. Pole and victory in Hockenheim suggests that the momentum is on his side. Team-mate Ralf Schumacher cannot be discounted, although his first retirement of the year in Germany was very expensive, and if he loses his appeal against a grid penalty for the next race in Hungary, life will be even harder. Nevertheless things are looking good for Williams, especially in the constructors' championship, in which it lies just two points behind Ferrari. Adam Cooper spoke to chief operations engineer Sam Michael about Hockenheim and prospects for the rest of the season

Sam Michael Q&A



"On the pit wall it was very difficult, and also inside the cockpit for Juan. He obviously struggled quite a bit with a sensor problem, but there was not much he could do about it really. It was a bit hectic on the pit wall for a while, but it was OK."



"We had a problem with the spare potentiometer on the butterflies on the engine. That meant that he only got 90 per cent throttle from after the first pit stop, so he did all the rest of the race like that. But because he was still lapping two seconds quicker than anybody we decided not to touch it. We could have plugged a lap top in at the pit stop and disabled it, but there's a chance that we would have had to turn the engine off, and sometimes you can't get it going again. We decided to just leave it."



"He was gaining speed everywhere else. The car was so strong compared to everyone else... he would probably have lost two or three tenths a lap from that problem."



"I think so, yeah. I haven't looked close enough at the video yet. As soon as a car is out like that, you're straight onto the other car."



"It looks very good for the championship. In some ways it's a surprise, but also it came from a lot of hard work and decisions, and they've obviously all paid off."



"Definitely. A good judge of Hungary performance is Monaco, Magny-Cours and Hockenheim, and we've won all those three races. We've got more parts coming to the car again to improve the pace for Hungary, so we're quite confident of those championships now."



"I think so, but as long as they keep coming first and second then it's not such a big deal for us. We don't care which way they come around first and second, as long as we get those points for the constructors. They can sort the drivers' championship out themselves."



"Potentially, yes, but obviously we don't have any team orders, so that's up to them."



"He's got a lot more experience now, so I don't see any problem with him performing well in Hungary. He should be as strong there as he is elsewhere."



"I think that up until Imola we did struggle, and at Imola it really turned around. It wasn't so evident straight away in results, because we had separate problems, but Imola was really the turnaround point in the pace of the car. Since then we've had a very aggressive development programme, the people in the design office and aero department have worked very hard, and also Michelin as well. We have a very strong relationship with them and they gave us a lot of support at the start of the year when we were struggling. A lot of it came from changing the car so much [over the winter]. The car was a very different car to the last three Williams, and it takes a long time to sort those things out. Now we're coming good."



"Working hard, I think. We're still two points behind Ferrari in the championship, and Juan is six points behind Michael. We still have work to do. We want to make sure we go into the last couple of races of the year in a strong position."



"Suzuka. I think that will be the hardest race. I think at Hungary and Monza we can do the same job as Hockenheim. Indy will be about equal [with Ferrari], but we should be able to do something. Then Suzuka will be tough."



"A little bit. We were a lot stronger in Silverstone than we thought we'd be, but we were still weren't as strong as Ferrari, so they were still quicker than us there. That's why we have the biggest concern over Suzuka. Once we get to a high-speed track, with a lot of high-speed changes of direction, and cold temperatures, they are potentially stronger than us. That's why from our point of view it would be wise to try and get into the last race with a bit of a lead in the championship rather than being behind. We'll just take every race as it comes and see what happens."

shares
comments
Montreal Vows Fight to Keep GP
Previous article

Montreal Vows Fight to Keep GP

Next article

Alesi Backs Schumacher to Retain Title

Alesi Backs Schumacher to Retain Title
How BRM's one-off F1 double defied its rollercoaster history Plus

How BRM's one-off F1 double defied its rollercoaster history

It’s 60 years since BRM achieved its goal and Graham Hill led the team to a world title double. But that was just part of the remarkable story of a unique team that at times overstretched its resources and had its fair share of disappointments

The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever Plus

The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever

OPINION: The effectiveness of DRS in Formula 1 remains a topic of debate as the winter break gives a chance for reflection on the racing we saw in 2022. For all of its detractors, perhaps an experiment where DRS is cast aside and the impact this has on racing is in order to truly understand its merits in modern F1

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche Plus

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche

OPINION: Everything looked set for Red Bull and Porsche to join forces for the 2026 season, before the marriage between both parties was called off. While at the time it looked like a major coup for Formula 1 in gaining both VW Group powerhouses Audi and Porsche for 2026, Red Bull and Porsche have really been spared a potentially fractious relationship.

Formula 1
Dec 7, 2022
How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Plus

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2022
The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start Plus

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start

While it launched the F1 career 
of a future world champion, STUART CODLING recalls that the BT60 was also the final nail in the coffin of a once-great marque 30 years ago. Here is its story

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022