Pastor Maldonado win at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday gave the Williams F1 its 114th victory in Formula One, ending a winless spell that had lasted since the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix.
The weekend was also a celebration of team founder Sir Frank Williams’ seventieth birthday, but it was also soured by a dramatic pit bay fire that damaged thousands of dollars worth of equipment and injured five term personnel.
Chief Operations Engineer, Mark Gillan, sums up the weekend…
Mark, how much satisfaction do you derive from Pastor Maldonado’s victory in the Spanish Grand Prix?
MG: This is a massive result for Williams and of course it is incredibly satisfying, especially given the tribulations of the 2011 season. However, this business is all about continuous improvement and it is important that we continue to deliver.
MG: Simply stunning – a master class from start to finish. He was strong all weekend, winning the race from pole despite a strong challenge from Alonso. One can’t ask anymore from a driver.
Going into the race weekend, were you confident that the FW34 was a race-winning package?
MG: We were confident that the FW34 was an improved package but of course you never know what upgrades other teams have made for their European upgrade packages.
Pastor did 25 laps on his final set of tyres. How critical was tyre wear during the race?
MG: Managing tyre degradation was the key to the race, so a long final stint was a calculated strategy decision, but we were reasonably confident based on our Friday data that this stint length was possible.
Bruno Senna struggled for pace relative to Pastor. Did he have any particular technical issues?
MG: No, there were no technical issues with the car.
After the race a fire broke out in the Williams F1 pit. First, is everyone okay? Second, do you know what caused it? Third, what was the extent of the damage?
MG: I would like to reiterate our thanks to everyone in the paddock who helped the Williams team on Sunday to control the fire. There were a number of people who attended the circuit medical centre, mostly as the result of smoke inhalation. One team member remains in hospital having suffered burns, but he is in a stable condition and in good spirits and has returned to England today for further medical care.
Investigations into the actual cause of the fire are ongoing and are being performed in collaboration with the local authorities and the FIA. The extent of the damage is still being accessed and will not become fully clear until both the cars and equipment have returned to the factory. What is clear is that our garage IT equipment and infrastructure have been badly damaged.
Monaco comes next. What chance Williams F1 can score its first win in the Principality since 2003?
MG: On the back of a win we go to Monaco with high hopes but there is a prodigious amount of work to be done prior to the event to recover from the fire.