We sat down with Williams F1 Team Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams on the morning of the 2013 F1 USGP to discuss her new role with the team, social media in Formula 1, and women in motorsport. (Photo credit: Williams F1 Team)
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The Austin Grand Prix is honored to present this special guest blog by Sir Peter Westmacott, the British Ambassador to the United States. Sir Westmacott is a strong supporter of the technology industry in England and is committed to the expansion of high-technology into new sectors of the British Economy. Sir Westmacott will be hosting a special F1 TechRally symposium and Best of Britain reception along with the British Consulate-General and the UK Trade & Investment department in Austin next Friday, Nov 16, during the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™ weekend.
Another race, another shake up on the championship leaderboard. However, as unpredictable as the races have been, a pattern is emerging - Alonso on podium. Alonso may not win the number one spot, but he somehow always manages to get on to the podium.
How did it go down at the Singapore GP? It started with qualifying: Hamilton, after a perfect flying lap, landed the pole position. Trailing behind Hamilton in qualifying was Maldonado the Dangerous, then Vettel. Notice that Alonso is not even top 3 in Qualifying; he was P5.
With Maldonado's record, I was expecting a good battle at the front part of the grid at the start of the race. Hamilton defended his pole from Maldonado and got a clean getaway, while Vettel's slick maneuver got him ahead of Maldonado, and then Button also took a run on Maldonado and passed the Williams driver to take the 3rd position. It is as if a different Maldonado was in the Williams car altogether; where is his usual aggressive drive?
The Marina Bay Street circuit is notoriously difficult track to overtake - a car needs to be a few seconds ahead to overtake, which means tyres and pit stop strategy were paramount in giving a driver the advantage to get ahead. With 61 laps in the race, the most sensible way to manage is a two-stop strategy, which most cars opted for. In terms of tyres, the soft was more durable than the supersoft so most teams were trying to get the drivers to squeeze as much drive as possible from the soft tyres.
Hamilton's pit stop at lap 13 was incredibly fast at 2.9 sec, paired with his quick pace throughout the laps, he looked unbeatable in winning the race. However, it was not his day. In an unlikely turn of events, Hamilton's McLaren had a gearbox failure at lap 23, leaving him with a car but no drive. I would have thrown a hissy fit, but Hamilton handled it with unusual calmness, perhaps he was thinking this is a sign for him to leave McLaren and move to Mercedes.
Shortly after Hamilton's gutting moment, Maldonado's car also suffered an untimely end at lap 35. It's most unfortunate to see two cars that were on front rows on the grid that would likely battle out to the bitter end both retire early.
As most anticipated, the safety car made not one, but two, appearances at the Singapore GP. The safety car came out at Lap 34 when Karthikeyan crashed out, and at Lap 40 when Schumacher crashed into Vergne. The safety car rounds took quite a while, such that the race timed out and concluded at the 2-hour mark rather than completion of 61 laps.
Without a truly heated battle up at the front with Hamilton and Maldonado out, we end the race with Vettel, Button, and Alonso moving into podium for top 3. Alonso still leads the championship with Vettel now trailing in 2nd and Raikkonen in 3rd place. Who did you think will have the best drive at the Japanese GP on October 7th?
Allow me to get this out of the way before we start on the race review: What kind of ridiculous shenanigan is that for the FIA stewards to punish McLaren by placing Hamilton at the very back of the grid?! It pains me to see Hamilton qualified for pole and then, BAM!, ended up on the last spot on the grid. This whole situation got me all wound up heading into Race day. I have to admit it was great to see a new driver taking pole, and Maldonado was certainly in top form, but I couldn't help but wonder how the race would have turned out if Hamilton was on pole. And on the note of qualifying, I wonder if more teams will start bailing out of Q3 to save tyres.
Onward with the Race day happenings. It was definitely nice to see another shakeup on the line up, top teams like Red Bull, McLaren were nowhere to be found while Williams and Lotus were right at the top sandwiching a home crowd-pleasing Ferrari. The Ferrari looked to be back on winning form with Alonso on the P2. Alonso did not disappoint as he nabbed the lead from Maldonado right from the start and down Turn 1.
It's not a proper race if there was no drama on the race track. For the Spanish Grand Prix, that drama came in the form of Schumacher rear-ending Senna, resulting in an early exit for both. I hate to say it, but I think Schumacher's attempt to revive his glory days is a futile effort.
There were many great wheel-to-wheel battles and overtaking throughout the race, my favorite was Kobayashi deep-diving to make an inside pass on Button on Lap33. However, the MVP of the race, on overtaking and on doing the impossible, belongs to Hamilton. Hamilton never gave up despite the situation he found himself in, and pulling a jump of 16 positions to land on 8th from his starting position of 24th. That's not even considering the strange pit stop that he had. McLaren needs to really get their act together; their pit stops actually make me nervous for their drivers. In contrast, the Ferrari pit stops were beautifully slick and error-free.
After 66 laps and many nail-biting moments, Maldonado got the job done and took home the trophy for the Spanish Grand Prix. Fantastic to see a new winner, and the 1st Venezuelan driver at that! I am really loving how every race has yet another new winner. I'm calling it now - Hamilton to win Monaco!
Action on the track aside, I am sad to report no one has made it onto my Best Post-race hair list this time around. I did notice that Raikkonen got a much-needed haircut, and Button started growing some facial hair, in case anyone is keep track. Did anyone ever notice the race girls’ outfits? I haven't seen any that's memorable, the Spanish Grand Prix one was underwhelming. I look forward to a more glamorous version of the outfit at Monaco. Speaking of Monaco, the Monaco track is one of my favorite, there's just something special about a street circuit. Mark your calendars and get ready for another exciting race on the weekend of 5/25 at Monaco!
What are you doing this afternoon? If you'd like to check out a Williams Cosworth FW33 with updated livery, then keep reading.
The 8th Annual Downtown Living Tour, by the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association, is taking place today. It is a self-guided tour of multiple downtown residence venues. Here's what they have to say:
Fans of architecture, exterior and interior design and décor will see the makeup of downtown with historic buildings like the 1882 Graeber house renovated into a 4,600 sq. ft. urban home by the late, renowned architect David Graeber, juxtaposed with newer builds like the The Four Seasons Residences on Lady Bird Lake (VIP only), and small-footprint, affordable units like The Railyard Condominiums. Get inspired by the use of space and experience city living!
Online sales are over, buy you can still get your wristband for the April 22nd 2012 Downtown Living Tour! Please come by our registration desk at the Buttrey Building at 107 W. 6th St. We'll be selling wristbands for the tour between 11:00am and 2:00pm. Click HERE to learn more.
Send us your pics with the Williams FW33!
In the wee hours of the morning (in Austin, at least), Williams F1 Team revealed their car for the 2012 Formula One season: the Williams Renault FW34. Check it out:
// The Car
The 2012 F1 season marks the team's 35th year competing in the sport, but it's far from "business as usual." Williams has rejoined forces with Renault for the first time since 1997 and is hoping to add to their previous partnership's 63 race wins, 4 Drivers' and 5 Constructors' titles. The Renault engine is a V8 power unit "renowned for its drivability, flexibility and durability." As a result of revised FIA technical regulations, this year's contender uses less than 5% of the parts from last year's FW33 and features the dropped nose at the front of the car.
A new Technical Director, Mike Coughlan, is behind the design and development direction of the FW34 and is excited to race:
“We are really looking forward to this season and from a personal perspective I can't wait to get the FW34 on to the race track. The factory has worked extremely hard over the winter to ensure that the car met its design, build and rig test targets and we start testing with the car prepared to a high standard. We’ve worked in close co-operation with all of our partners to achieve that, including Renault Sport F1. In the run-up to Australia, we will be working hard with our exciting new driver line-up to ensure that we maximise and unlock the full potential of the FW34. It is imperative that we demonstrate a continuous improvement in our performance and deliver results throughout the season.”
// The Drivers
Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas return to the line up, as Driver and Official Reserve Driver, respectively, and they are joined by Driver Bruno Senna after a consideredable winter evaluation process. All three competitors are excited about the FW34, team synergy and opportunities for the 2012 season. Maldonado is excited for his home country of Venezuela and hopes to give them good results as a thank you for their continued support. Vottas is looking forward to driving one practice session at 15 races in order to give him a better understanding of the car outside of the factory. And Senna added:
“I’m very excited to be back in action with the Williams F1 Team in Jerez. This is my ever first pre-season testing programme since I started in Formula One two years ago. I’m really motivated and looking forward to working hard and with everyone in the team. I hope we have a successful month testing and developing the car so we arrive in Melbourne as well prepared as possible.”
Williams F1 Team will join their competitors during winter testing in Jerez, Spain this week. Maldonado will drive Tuesday and Wednesday and Senna will be behind the wheel Thursday and Friday.
// The Partners
In addition to new car, new engine, new driver and new technical direction, Williams is also excited to expand their partnerships with some names even Americans will recognize, including Gillette and Head & Shoulders. Will we will see any commercials of Bruno stepping out of the shower and shaking a full head of hair? I can picture it now...
Hitting even closer to home, Williams continues to develop their partnership with native Texan Michael Johnson. Johnson is a retired American sprinter who still holds Olympic records in sprinting in addition to four Olympic gold metals and eight world championship gold medals. Last month, Williams F1 Team announced their partnership with Johnson's company, Michael Johnson Performance, which focuses on training top athletes in all sports. His performance center is located about 250 miles north of Circuit of The Americas (outside Dallas, Texas) but he has been spending time with the Williams team gearing up for a promising 2012 season.
When Matt Jones, Head of Williams F1 Team's Marketing Services, visited Austin last month, it was evident that Williams is aligning a winning attitude with a dedication to excellence. You can sense Sir Frank Williams' excitement from today's launch:
“One could say that looking at the Williams F1 Team today we are off to a truly fresh start. We have a new car, new driver line up, new engine and new senior personnel. We also have a number of new partners who have joined the team in the past few months. I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome them formally and sincerely wish that they have an enjoyable and, most importantly, a valuable experience with us. The team has had a good winter at the factory and we feel ready and strong for the fight.”
But that's not it. Williams just activated a new application on Facebook that allows YOU to discover in-depth info on the FW34, technical videos, un-released stats and facts, driver interviews and more. Via this app, they'll reveal exclusive content and give you a chance to win a personalized signed image and framed print from Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna:
- Feb. 7 - Tech changes
- Feb. 10 - Engine & exhaust
- Feb. 14 - Chassis & aerodynamic parts
- Feb. 18 - Tires/tyres
- Feb. 23 - Transmission & suspension
- Feb. 27 - Cockpit & drivers
- Mar. 1 - DRS & KERS
- Mar. 5 - Pitstops
- Mar. 9 - Final Reveal
Kudos to Williams for creatively keeping fans engaged; it will have us coming back for more. Go check it out on their Williams F1 Team Facebook page.