Williams has rejected suggestions it stripped out excess weight from its FW33 ahead of Rubens Barrichello’s come-from-nowhere quick lap on the final day of pre-season testing at Jerez.
Barrichello’s lap – the fastest of the entire four-day test at the Andalusian circuit – was such a surprise that it prompted one driver, who asked to remain nameless, to declare they “didn’t believe” the pace suddenly showed by the Grove outfit.
Conspiracy theories suggest that the FW33 had been virtually drained of fuel, shod with super-soft tyres and stripped of its excess weight – including its battery-powered KERS unit – in order to post a super-quick lap-time, with the outfit seemingly desperately short of sponsorship and set to float a 27% shareholding on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in a matter of days.
And we certainly argued that there was plenty of interest – for many teams up and down the grid – to aim for some headline-grabbing lap times in testing.
The team’s technical director has described the claims as “absolute nonsense”: in an interview published in Auto Motor und Sport.
“The time is real. Anyone who knows our team knows that we don’t run underweight,” he added.
“The time is down to Rubens using the super-soft tyres, and of course he had a little less fuel in the tank.”
The Australian insisted that the KERS unit was still on-board, although the connection between it and the Cosworth engine had been cut “because we had a problem with the cooling”, he claimed.
And as for the Williams having not looked anywhere near quick until that lap, Michael claimed that this was due to the team only using the “the medium [compound] tyres and always with a relatively large amount of fuel on board”.
Michael added that the team was still struggling to find a workable set-up running the medium-compound Pirelli tyre.
Similar suggestions were levelled at Michael Schumacher – fastest on the second day of testing at Jerez – with claims that his session-topping lap time was little more than a ‘glory run’ to divert attention away from its apparent struggles with its new W02 chassis.
“There is little point to wasting precious track time on low-fuel ‘glory’ runs when there is far more important work to complete,” team boss Ross Brawn told the official Formula1.com website.
[Original image via LAT]