An extraordinary weekend

The Williams team had an extraordinary weekend in Barcelona, the team winning its first victory in eight years, thanks to the efforts of Venezuela’s Pastor Maldonado – much to the delight of the many Williams F1 fans in the paddock. There was further drama on Sunday evening when there was a flash fire in the team’s pit garage when Sir Frank Williams was talking to the team and photographs were being taken. It is not clear how this happened but the result was that one team member suffered serious burns, while a number of others from several different teams suffered from smoke inhalation as they fought the fire.

The fire spoiled the celebrations for the team that had gone for eight years without success and came soon after Frank Williams’s 70th birthday, which was celebrated by the team on Saturday evening. Maldonado’s victory was a well-judged and hard-fought one, against the very best, and his status in F1 circles went up accordingly, elevating him from being seen as a quick but erratic pay-driver, to being seen as a serious player with race-winning potential.

The victory was vindication for the structure put in place in recent years by the team’s former CEO Adam Parr, who left the organisation a few weeks ago after failing to agree with the team owners on how the Concorde Agreement negotiations should be handled. Parr took much criticism for hiring the engineers and drivers chosen, but the win proved that his choices were sound. It was vindication too for technical director Mike Coughlan, who returned to the sport last year after three years away following the 2007 spying scandal in which he was implicated. Coughlan has kept an incredibly low profile this season, but it is clear that his involvement has been of key importance in the Williams turnaround.

162 thoughts on “An extraordinary weekend

  1. Mike coughlan appointment a great move by Williams , just a stunning appointment made by Williams. Just great

    1. Meaning what? That anyone who ever makes a mistake should never have a chance of redemption? He cheated, he’s been punished, let’s move on.

      Incidentally, what Coughlan did is small beer compared to what used to go on – massively underweight cars or artificially tripping the lap timing beam early for example…which doesn’t make it any less wrong of course.

      1. What a bizarre interpretation of what appears to be a wholly positive comment about Mr Coughlan’s role.

          1. Well, my apologies if I’ve misunderstood the original poster, but I find it all but impossible to read that as anything other than extraordinarily sarcastic.

        1. March are said to have tripped the timing position a fraction of a second early for Vittorio Brambilla’s pole position at the 75 Swedish GP. The story is in Mike Lawrence’s history of the team.

  2. As a very long time Williams fan – and more a fan of the constructor than its drivers – I was almost in tears when Pastor won the race. Such an unexpected result but such a rewarding one.

  3. Like our pal here who likes Newey but not Seb, I was very happy for Williams despite PM being my most unfavorite driver. I certainly don’t begrudge him the victory, as he seemed to be about perfect today, and it’s hard to take issue with that. However, I was struck by 2 things:

    1. The podium celebration seemed less enthused than I might have expected for one featuring a first time winner. Generally when a new guy is up there, the more senior drivers by his side are effusive with their congratulations. Today, finishers 2 and 3 acted appropriately, not sullenly, but they were sufficiently unexcited that it seemed that perhaps Pastor is not their best pal. If they were genuinely happy for him, they hid it well.

    2. I was looking forward to the interviews for clues about the previous point. Sadly, however, on the far side of the Atlantic, the coverage was marred by SpeedTV’s decision to abruptly leave the scene before showing the post-race interviews and points-summing. Why? So they could show the game by whatever English football team has their logo plastered on the nose of the Williams. Why would they do such a thing? Beats me, but whoever managed to inexplicably convince the football and F1 teams to do cross logo-sharing evidently also persuaded the Fox TV empire over here to do the same sort of silly thing by truncating standard F1 coverage so they could put a soccer, er, football game that nobody over here cares about all over their motorsports channel. How would Brits feel if the post-race coverage was terminated so they could cram an American baseball game down your throat? Same basic thing. The only effect it may have had on the football team’s image here is that their logo may now be used for target practice from sea to shining sea…

    1. “So they could show the game by whatever English football team has their logo plastered on the nose of the Williams.”

      Sauber you mean? Not that it makes it any better…

      1. Of course you’re correct… mea culpa… brain damage… sorry to all who spent keystrokes because of my error…

    2. In defence of Fox/Speed, it was the end of what has been a very close season in the English Premiership and in the end the title was won a little like Hamilton’s driver’s championship – one team were “champions” for all of thirty seconds when their match finished but their rivals’ match was still being played.

      Cutting from the F1 to that is a bit more like British coverage cutting from F1 straight to the Superbowl.

      P.S. Be grateful you ever get post-race coverage, French post-race stuff consists of a brief interview with Eric Boullier about Roman Grosjean. That’s it. Seriously.

      1. Can’t believe you’re defending SPEED. After the race they aired a useless Race Reset (come on, the race JUST finished) and had three ad breaks that eventually led to Bob saying “that’s all folks”. They also missed the anthems which I thought was particularly sad given it was the first chance to hear the Venezuelan anthem at an F1 race.

        Their pre-race show is utter rubbish too, why on earth do they think we want to see three men standing in a studio when there’s tension building on an F1 track? Half the footage they use is from practice and qualifying B-roll if not fromt he previous year (i.e. not live) and they reintroduce the commentators every time they come back from commercials (which is A LOT).

        Rubbish coverage.

        1. I’m trying to provide some context. Sunday afternoon’s Premier League matches were championship-defining and, to the very end, entirely thrilling to those taking an interest.

          I can assure you that French coverage is no better. They cut to get a quick interview with Eric Boullier about Roman Grosjean during Maldonado’s victory lap and the inevitable team radio transmission of his shouts of joy, discussed the race pretty quickly then went as quickly as possible to Sunday afternoon filler TV.

          I’ll take cutting to an unrelated but live sporting event over cutting to hidden camera crap comedy shows any day.

      1. Well, it was Alonso first until Kimi decided to join on lifting him up! :)..

        I think RShack having watched the heavily truncated post race coverage, must have missed it. I don’t miss watching Speed TVs coverage the tiniest bit.

        RShack, you have to find a way to watch BBC’s coverage.

        1. Thanks for the suggestion, I will nose around to find a way… although I do enjoy the tenor of the SpeedTV crew…

    3. Re podium celebrations, I thought it a very nice touch that Alonso and Raikkonen together hoisted Maldonado on their shoulders! Pretty celebratory I’d say. In some interview weeks ago when Alonso was asked about which younger drivers looked promising, he had mentioned Maldonado right away, so I doubt there is any lack of pals-iness there. Kimi is Kimi…

    4. Alonso was complimentary and congratulated Williams and Pastor and for a short man did a good job of hoisting PM onto his shoulders for the photo-op. Kimi was more disappointed not to have caught Alonso but then I can’t remember kimi ever being described as effusive for anything even winning a WDC so that’s hardly evidence either way for his like or dislike of PM.

    5. As to your 1st point, I think they lack history together. It’s not that Alonso knows Pastor from when he was karting. And Kimi… is Kimi – who just lost another race.

    6. I have to agree, but in a slightly different way. I normally listen to JA’s commentary on R5Live with the tv sound muted, this is normally far superior to the tv commentary, however there were so many interruptions of F1 for football scores and football news items that that seemed to run into one another I turned it off in disgust and reverted to the tv commentary.

    7. Re: Pastor on the podium,

      hmm, looked really subdued also to me. I think PM has still some rehabilitation to do since the days he was rightfully called out for acting a thug. His Mr Venezuela interview was a inspired skit with some tones of self deprecation. But how much is simply face, laughing it off, how much sincere, no idea. It’s also that supreme self confidence. Or rather still that swagger I didn’t like. Could he have been super controlled because that to him is his “rightful place”? Did the others just groan “oh, no, now he’s going to be impossible”? Might be a problem there, or might just be a little shock: I mean that is a proper result on your race #24, considering who he was next to, and that was no fluke rain drenched lottery!

      I’ll look on the bright side for now. He’s far from my favourite, but no harm having a baddie with real ability. If he can drive like that consistently, he deserves all he can get. Not a comparison, but our semi retired baddie seems to be having a problem staying on the track, this year. Must miss Rubens to bully. Although the racing has been superb lately, I am tempted to say I rather like the idea of a really able driver head faking the others, shaking it up, and if that’s PM, then I’ll be very entertained. Surely cannot hurt to get passions higher? Maybe all that energy i see as coming out “thug” simply gets used on track, when he knows he can do something, and then he’s a normal happy boy, again . .

      1. I can’t help wondering how much of the negativity around Maldonado comes from a) his pay-driver status and b) his looks. If the man were as photogenic as Bruno Senna I suspect people would think of him as a much nicer guy – as it is he looks like the lead-henchman from a Bond film.

        1. and (at least in Britain): (c) his thuggish swipe at Hamilton’s McLaren in qualifying at Spa last year.

    8. “The podium celebration seemed less enthused than I might have expected for one featuring a first time winner. ”

      If the other two drivers were less than “effusive,” we should remember who we’re talking about – one was the Iceman and the other Alonso. Kimi doesn’t do effusive and Alonso isn’t outwardly happy unless he’s winning. Having said that, Alonso seemed genuinely pleased for Maldonado when they got out of their cars and in the pre-podium area – where they exchanged friendly words in Spanish.

      As for your second point, I confess I don’t watch Speed so I don’t know how they covered or didn’t cover the post-race. I wasn’t aware that Williams had a football sponsorship. I know that Sauber was pushing their new sponsorship by Chelsea Football Club this weekend.

    9. Kimi doesn’t jump up and down even when he wins himself. And now you conclude that Pastor and he aren’t best pals because Kimi wasn’t jumping up and down for Pastor’s win????

      Agree about the insanity of showing a soccer game on Speed, and truncating the F1 broadcast for this ‘important’ event…

    10. I totally disagree with your reading of the podium ceremony. Watch it again. Your prejudice against Pastor is clouding your view.

      And, frankly, he’s much underrated.

      1. You could well be right, I admit to not liking the guy… this is not a function of his talent but rather is due to… what?… beats me… maybe what strikes me as his arrogant rich-kid ape-like demeanor… not saying any of that is fair…it was an instant reaction to him, based on not much… just fessing-up, that’s all…

        As for the ceremony, I will indeed watch it again a 2nd time… several have expressed the view that I misread it… all I can say is that I expected the others to drown him in sprays of shaken champagne, but instead I saw both of them walking away, followed by what seemed to me an “oops, we’d better do the right thing and look happy about it” effort at feigned excitement… but again, I freely admit this might be about the eyes I’m looking with…

    11. One can alway read the post race interviews in the web. Also, Williams does not have a tie in with any football team; that would be Sauber F1. Said tie in is just as strange as the owner of the Boston Red Sox having an ownership interest in Rouch Racing (Rouch Frenway) or an NFL coach owning a NASCAR team (Joe Gibbs Racing). While watching Chelsea vs Blackburn, it was great to see Sauber F-1 along the sidelines of the pitch. Get up too early to watch the race this morning?

    12. They carried Pastor on their shoulders, much like Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard carried Rubens Barrichello in 2000 when he had his first victory. I think that’s enough excitement you can expect the other podium finishers to have for a first time winner.

      1. I was watching closely to see how the other two dealt with PM’s win and I thought they joined well in the moment.
        But I especially liked Kimi’s speech in his language to his home fans. Brevity. More Finish then Finnish.

    13. Alonso alo tweeted (twote?) a message of congrats to Pas Mal, with a pic of the two of them cuddling . . .

  4. Will there be blip in the share price, I wonder?

    Joe, please give Rubens a call for his reaction to the win.

    Max’s KERS bomb in the petrol tank idea has been an obvious recipe for fiery disasters ever since KERS was proposed. It’s already claimed at least one life, and doubtless there will be more pit-lane fireworks.

    I see electrical fires quite often involving overhead street lights and signage, and they are always spectacularly dangerous.

    Reminds me of Willi’s crazy idea of using “T-Stoff” and “Z-Stoff” as a chemical power source in the Me 163 “Komet”.

    1. Don’t think it was the KERS in this case – the car involved looks spectacularly undamaged.

      Who’s been killed by KERS Colin ?

      I know of any number that have been ‘jolted’ (quite severely) but not killed.

    2. Who died from KERS?

      The Williams fire was in the back of the garage…far away from Bruno Lalli’s ‘KERS Bomb’…

    3. Formula One KERS has claimed a life? That’s news to me.

      Battery powered electrical assist is the future of automobiles, both on the track and the street. Plug-in hybrids will be common within the decade and overwhelm the market shortly thereafter. The death and fire risk will probably be no worse than it is with existing petrol powered vehicles. To turn it around – imagine if we’d been running battery cars for the past 100 years and the car companies were pushing for new models that required carrying around large quantities of HIGHLY volatile liquid fuel?

      The existing system is already quite dangerous, but that danger has largely been mitigated. Auto designers will mitigate the danger with with battery technology as well.

    4. As one who has worked in the motor industry for 35 years I can add that you don’t need KERS to start an electrical fire, you can get a very decent blaze going with 12Volts and less than half an Amp. It all depends upon what is where.

      I have to admit that I was reminded of the stupidity of the woman who set her kitchen on fire whilst pouring petrol from one container to another while her gas oven was on. (Tony Blair got rid of common sense in the uk during his mis-reign, replacing it with thousands of new laws)

      However the regulations regarding storage and handling of fuels and hazardous substances are many and rigorous. So here, either the regs do not go far enough or they were flouted. It seems some were still working whilst the joy was going on at the front of the garage

      1. Love it! The above kitchen incident happened under a largely-Tory regime, following advice from a Conservative cabinet minister to hoard fuel, yet somehow it’s STILL Tony Blair’s fault?! Do you realise how ridiculous that sounds?

        Not that I have any love for Bliar, mind, not since Iraq, but still, you can hardly blame him for a middle-aged woman totally lacking common-sense (it was even worse than you state: it wasn’t her oven that was on, but a gas ring!).

    5. up 5% ish, on negligible volume, time of writing.

      Few more outings like recently, and I’d hope for a bit more than that. But the races are not be all and end all for them on the financials, discussed here plenty before. A big technology agreement would do far more for the price. I think you have to put a dampener on expectations just from the racing – I mean not gamble on that.

      All I can say is not far shy of up 100% since they were being slagged off by all quarters in August. There was so much crap talk, and so much drag on the price, it made me very suspicious at the time. And to be honest, rather angry, wondering what motivations there might be. The bad mouthing didn’t fit with any analysis I could make.

      Their ticket is WGF1:GR for easy pondering.

      I hold shares, my plan is to steadily buy _small_ amounts until I think they are silly over priced, but that is a whimsical plan, entirely specific to me, and although I could probably come up with explanations why in general, it is a personal thing, as is all share buying, so don’t be taking my advice!

    6. It’s possible, Colin, that KERS caused the fire – but we don’t yet know, so why speculate? As to its life-threatening possibilities, rather more people have died from flying wheels and gasoline fires than from KERS…..and injured by the odd flying shock-absorber. Shall we do away with those too?

        1. Supposedly there was once an order sent around RFC squadrons in the First World War: “there will be no more forced landings”

    7. “It’s already claimed at least one life”

      Has someone died from fire on Sunday? I dearly hope not

    8. From all I have read about the incident KERS had nothing to do with the fire. It was suggested that a static electricity spark may have ignited petrol vapors during a transfer. Also, when did KERS claim a life?

    9. “I see electrical fires quite often involving overhead street lights and signage”

      Where do you live? I’ve never seen one, and would gladly stay away from your neck of the woods, if you have those occurring ‘quite often’…

  5. Interestingly, I realized today who’s been at McLaren this year and is responsible for the pit goings-ons (IIRC): old Williams man Sam Michael…

    1. IIRC, Joe explained that Sam’s job at McLaren is focused on interfacing with various parties outside the team moreso than directing activity within the team, and thus is quite different from his previous job. If I have that right, it’s hard to see how their surprisingly iffy pit lane performance is on him. But, then again, I could have this all wrong. (I’d look it up to ensure I’m not spreading misinformation, but I can’t find any sensible way to review comments here.)

      1. I am not sure I did. I think I said that this was the usual job of a sporting director, but it seems that Martin Whitmarsh is still doing all that that Sam Michael is working more within the team. Titles mean different things in different teams.

        1. Quite right… I asked about what the job titles typically meant, and you were kind enough to provide info in general terms… you did not specify precisely what the roles are for any particular team…

          1. Is team-specific info about this kind of thing available anywhere? Or does one only pick it up by hanging around and assimilating whatever clues might appear?

  6. It was just so damned nice to see Williams win a race again. No other words are necessary, just that.

  7. RShack – Its Sauber who have Chelsea sponsorship.

    Colin – I don’t recall hearing of any deaths as a result of KERS systems in F1, please elaborate.

  8. Sam Michael leaves Williams and joins McLaren.
    Williams wins and McLaren make more mistakes in a month than they normally do in a year.
    Coincidence?

    1. Slim link, slim link.

      Whats Sam’s job at McLaren anyway fakepyne, and who reports to him ?

      1. His job title is Sporting Director (not Technical Director as he was at Williams). I believe Joe said that role is typically focused on dealing with parties outside the team, e.g., FIA, other teams, and God-knows-who-else.

        1. Usually that is true, but not in this case. McLaren’s view of the role is much more to do with the race team and the way that it runs. It is unfortunate for Sam Michael that things have happened as they have happened, but this does not mean he is responsible for McLaren’s failures of late.

  9. They were no doubt probably helped by being relieved of the Sam Michael negative influences; sadly it seems that his talents are now ruining McLarens chances.

  10. Absolutely one of the best race weekends in a very long time. Maldonado winning is a brilliant result no matter how we look at it. Alonso was so strong in the race, he once again showed me how he can perform when the material is not perfect, and Kimi´s third is just evidence that you can´t count out a former champion. Simply brilliant

  11. The curse of Sam Michael …

    The turn of fortune for Williams since he left and the amount of amateur errors McLaren commits since he joined is just astonishing!

    (Note, I don’t know Sam Michaels contribution to McLaren, so please take this post in jest – for all I know he may be totally blameless, but it is in interesting coincidence nevertheless)

  12. He gives you £28 million per year and gets you wins…

    If he gets more wins this year and further proves his worth then I can see F1 driver’s salaries going down!

  13. Firstly I think everyones thoughts are with the team member who was badly injured, his colleagues who also needed treatment and the very brave souls who fought the fire. Best wishes for a speedy recovery are due and well done to everyone in F1 who reacted.

    Which brings me to….. where the hell were any circuit fire fighters?

    Maybe that’s not how it works in F1, perhaps after the race they stand down – however I recall way back in National Bike Racing in he UK in the 80’s, at say Donington, as long as the garages were occupied, there was fire cover.

    1. According a spanish source, the fire fighter came in 4 minutes 50 seconds. Thats a pretty accurate time so I guess is from the official report of the circuit.

  14. Joe do you have any insights you can share??

    I’m totally baffled by a driver who was not rated by anyone, his team included, who suddenly one sunday turns in a performance of brilliance and nerve. How does it come about?
    And if Mike Coughlan has found the ideal solution to aero + traction + Pirelli conundrums, then are they favourites to win monaco also?

    1. It is a complicated business. Mike is part of it, but so too is Jason Somerville and his team or aerodynamicists. As far Pastor Maldonado, there has never been any doubt about his speed. He has always been quick, but he has also been rather wild and unpredictable. What he showed on Sunday is that he has developed the ability to soak up pressure from Alonso and win. It was impressive. He deserves credit. As for Pirelli, it is the same for everyone. Temperature is obviously important and how the tyres react to a chassis as well, but the team that figures out how to make the tyres work at every track will be the team that wins the World Championship.

  15. I think this will be the last season that we will witness such a heterogeneous population of winners. I’d say it is more akin to chaos. The comments by Micheal will soon have to be taken more seriously.

    Too many respected experts around the paddock are failing to understand the tyres. Well maybe, just maybe, Pirelli has a relatively large margin of error for the control of production quality and it’s skewing the VERY NARROW operational window of the current tyres which in turn are unreasonably expected to operate under a VERY WIDE range of ambient temperatures, track surfaces and track types.. So it’s quite possible in my mind that the teams will, from time to time, find themselves with batches of tyres that occupy the extremes of production QC making a mockery of their data which have their own margins for error.

    In other words it all turning out to be too much of a lottery and I predict that the continuous confusion about tyres will result in a downward spiral of moral for too many engineers and drivers and a more organised protest about the chaotic nature of the tyres is coming up the track.

    Whether that will happen before a critical mass of fans begin to believe that F1 has stepped over the fine line between “exciting unpredictability” and chaos, I don’t know.

    Taking nothing away from Pastor and Williams mind you!

    1. Would that not leave drivers with wildly different sector times before / after a tyre stop. Or are “whole team” batches different? Teams seem to know what to expect from tyres, which suggests some consistency

  16. As a 25 year ardent supporter of Team Willy, I cried when he crossed the line and shouted so loud and long that kids in the neighbourhood came to see what was going on. I hope everyone recovers okay from the fire…

  17. Joe. As a man who has been around F1 for many years – Is there anything you’ve ever seen or heard which would give weight to a theory that the ‘powers that be’ have a way of ‘boosting’ cars / teams to coincide with specific events.

    The two most recent I can think of are Ferrari’s unlikely win at Silverstone last year on their 60th anniversary and yesterdays unlikely win for Maldonado on the event of Sir Frank’s 70th. I can think of other instances in the past where rumours of a wavering sponser have coincided with unexpected qualifying or test performance for the car in question.

    Or perhaps I am too cynical? I do try to love the sport with all its failings!

    1. Forgive me, but I thought much the same thing. Whether Joe would want to go on the record here is unlikely, but even Murray Walker, who famously thought the best of everybody, used to refer to the way Ferraris went so very well at Monza, and we won’t mention curious goings-on in Hungary…

      My thoughts on this were: a thank you to Frank for signing the new Concorde agreement, and that it’s just the boost that a wavering PDVSA sponsorship might need… since apparently Maldonado was already mobbed as a star in Venezuela BEFORE this win, any successor to Chavez would have to brave a lot of negative public opinion to terminate it now! Also looks good for the upcoming float (see John (other John)’s post for the rest of that theory!)…

  18. Fantastic result!
    The fire – and it’s timing – seem to be typical of the teams historically bad luck.

    ‘RShack’ – seemed to me Alonso was very pleased for Maldonado – and Kimi
    never seems to be much pleased about anything.

  19. It’s been noted that Sky (UK) named the injured mechanics live on air to the presumable obvious distress of their relatives … Totally tabloid, and totally unprofessional.

    1. I hear what you’re saying Karen – now, in fairness someone else might also have named him which I missed, but if you’re referring to Ted Kravitz, he was reporting in very stressful situation – and I’ve done that at a number of fires, explosions, an incident with a 737 and the M1 and a few other life or death moments (ex radio reporter) and I’m guessing his brain just clicked in to his knowledge of the people.

      If someone else named the victim later well yes, that’s not good unless he’d been named by the team or the medical centre / FIA and rightly it should have been picked up by a Producer at least and covered with an ‘unconfirmed’ or sent a runner to check on an official update on the severity of the injury. I do agree you’re right – relatives don’t want to hear the news on TV, I agree.

        1. It was that irritating link guy they have. Martin and Damon looked shocked when he did it. To be fair he seemed to realise he’d cocked up immediately.

          I’ve been very disappointed with Sky so far. They’ve gone for their football coverage model of cleavage and dumbing down rather than their cricket model of expertise and dignity. And you can’t get the HD signal if you subscribe via Virgin Media cable like I do, whereas the Beeb is still HD, so I’m watching BBC when they have the race live.

          1. The Sky viewing figures have been very disappointing, only reaching about 50% of the figure they had initially promised.

            Average per race 735k (including Time shifted viewers)

            The above figure is at odds with Sky’s figures, because Sky give combined peak viewing figures for up to 3 broadcasts of the race.

            The puzzling thing is, their qualifying figures (average of 379k) are so low, you’d have thought that if the channel is aimed at the ‘avid’ F1 fan, Qualifying figures would be similar to race figures.

            Personally the most disappointing aspect of the Sky coverage has been the lack of original content, the channel is mainly full of repeats, and further repeats of other broadcasters archive content.

            1. Live Qualy is a big enough commitment when its Saturday lunchtime. When it’s the small hours (flyaways) you’ve got to be seriously fanatic to watch it. It might normalise now they’re back in Europe. And given the amount of cross-promotion with their football coverage, I’d guess they’re banking on transferring some of the premiership audience during the closed-season.

              1. It would be interesting to be able to see the figures for the Monaco Grand Prix, which will fall perfectly between the end of European club football and the European (national-side) Championship.

              2. i get borded watching sky i do love martin brundle and ted kravitz, and i iv come to enjoy johnny herbert but IMO they dont need an hour and a half of race build up and post show after wards bbc has or had last season 50 mins which was enough

  20. Given that Coughlan only arrived in the middle (-ish?) of last year, how much of the success of this year’s car can be attributed to Sam Michael?

      1. Is quite a statement Joe…I’ve always thought he was quite well respected, but huge amounts of negative comments this weekend from the font of knowledge that is the armchair fans. I thought Williams tried to persuade him to go back on his resignation at some point last year?

        1. The departure of Sam Michael was also an opportunity for a reshuffle of the Williams F1 engineering departments, which may have a hand in their newfound pace.

          That said, this is F1; almost every year you find teams who under-perform or over-perform in their car design. Arguably Williams are showing a rare example of an unusually bad 2011 car followed by an unusually good 212 car. The proof may well be in seeing how they develop it through the year and/or the pace of their 2013 machine.

          I doubt that Sam Michael has fiddled with the McLaren pit-stop set-up (and their wheel nut design) but it’s clear that the boys and girls from Woking aren’t having much luck recently.

          If the stewards had chosen to simply disqualify Lewis from Q3 instead of Q1,2 & 3 he might have been a serious contender on Sunday.

  21. RShack: Surprised at your reaction to the podium ceremony. The respect of two world champions for Maldonado was expressed remarkably in their hoisting him on their shoulders – though Alonso initiated it. As DT says in GP+, he has never ever seen that on an F1 podium before, That was my reaction at the time, and I saw a lot of podiums before DT did (and he has seen many after me). I think you can dismiss the facial expressions (Kimi, after all, never smiles in public !), it was the gesture which said it all.

      1. Well, I stand corrected, and presumably DT does too. In our defence, I have to say that there were other things on our mind around podium time rather than watching the ceremony on the media room TV.

        Minor things like telling the world of the new World Champion and the antics of Mr. Schumacher during the race. and the chaotic early response of the stewards and the FIA.

        It is one of the few times I have heard the FIA spokesman being roundly booed by the assembled media when he read a stewards’ report saying that no significant action was being taken against Schumi. He reported the media’s unanimous reaction to the stewards (and presumably Max, who was there), and things changed rapidly.

        But thank you for correcting me on this.

  22. I’m delighted for Williams, but I find it hard to celebrate anything coughlan is part of, given the damage he did to mclaren. There are very few businesses where you can cause $100million damage and more, then happily come back to a competitor a few years later.

  23. It’s really good to see a team starting to ‘work’ – more power to their elbow. Hope that there are many more to come.

    And,

    although not his No1 fan I would have liked to see AP stick around and the team follow his stance re the CA. It might have injected a sense of reality – and heralded additional income and control in the longer term for the teams.
    An altogether more ‘healthy’ feeling in the sport.

    Stand AP next to Danny Behaha and you’ve got to wince. Parr at least has an air of knowing what he’s doing from a strategic point of view – I suspect one of the reasons that CVC and Bernie were glad to see the back of him.

    The remaining teams (ex Mercedes) – pragmatic/gutless/sheep – you choose.

  24. Coughlan and Parr are the big story here.

    They’ve achieved what eluded Williams’ previous heads for most of the past 15 years. An outright win – on merit.

    It’s a wonder that Parr hasn’t yet landed at another team. Gardening leave? Bernie strongly disliked Parr, but I always suspected that was because Parr was too “Bernie” for Bernie’s liking.

    1. Random,

      I think its the old story re CVC and Bernie – They look good against people that think they’re clever – as opposed to people who really are.

      As for AP, I think that he has bigger fish to fry. After all, when you’ve put yourself into a company and rebuilt it, and the first time that you’re faced with a showdown – that could yield you big returns if you have the balls for a fight – you suddenly find that the guy you’re going to fight controls all around you (or as we call them ‘i castrati’) you’re not likely to want to fight your way back into the industry are you ?

      1. Perhaps Parr’s F1 future will pivot directly on Bernie’s future in the sport.

        If the Gribkowsky ruling requires further indictments, the oppostion to Parr’s within the sport may quickly evaporate.

  25. You could see Mike Coughlan covered in extinguisher powder during the fire. He’d been right in the thick of it. I think he still feels the effects from Spygate, but maybe he is the one putting the pressure on himself, so he knuckles down and stays low.

    It is a sound strategy.

    Anyway, the race was fantastic. One of the best ones at this circuit post end-of-lap chicane. Pastor didn’t do anything wrong and wouldn’t be fazed by Alonso. Very impressive.

    1. By all accounts, Coughlan dived into the garage to search for casualties at enormous personal risk. Let’s get the pluses and minuses on his scorecard in perspective…

    2. I seem to remember reading elsewhere that Coughlan has basically been barred by the team from talking to the media, they don’t want a million articles starting “An interview with Mike Coughlan, the man at the centre of the Spygate scandal, now chief engineer at Williams…”

  26. Really great move? You mean Mike Coughlan, the ex Ferrari employee who back at McLaren was in the middle of the 100 Mio $ spygate? I wonder how such a crook can go to technical meetings with fellow engineers and look into their eyes! I would like to see how he says hello to Stefano!
    As for Pastor, I’ve not forgotten that in his first year at Williams he was playing kickass with Lewis. The cameras did not catch what happened between the two at the bus stop chicane but going downhill towards Eau Rouge, Pastor apparently paid back his dues to Lewis. And that meant pushing him off the track! He is a pay driver. But with talent! And guts!! Well done Pastor!

    1. “The cameras did not catch what happened between the two at the bus stop chicane but going downhill towards Eau Rouge…”

      The camera’s caught it and the scene was then played over and over and over and over and over again and then discussed ad infinitum at the time.

      As for Coughlan, times passed. If I as a fan can get over it, I’m sure there are those in the industry who can too.
      To be fair, it is far, far, far from the worst thing to ever occur in F1.

      1. Leigh, what I meant is that the blunder at the chicane did not look nasty at all. But Pastor definitely thought Lewis deserved a lesson or 2! And that sort of irreverant behaviour only belongs to great guys. Senna did it to Prost. Schumi to Senna. Alonso to Schumi. So let’s see if he goes that far.
        As for Coughlan …I would forgive him if he worked for a truck factory. He should have had the decency to quit F1 once + for all. It must really take an incredible amount of hypocrisy to hire Coughlan again in F1 and just do as if nothing had ever happened! Whoever got that smart idea, FW or AP doesn’t really matter, fact is that FW approved it! I wont’ forget that.

  27. @RShack. It could have looked lessthan enthusiastic, but how many times do you see #2 and #3 Lifting #1 on their shoulders?

    1. ….especially when #2 and #3 are BOTH former WDC’s? I thought it was a great gesture, and Pastor seemed to appreciate it as well. All credit to Fred for initiating it and Kimi for going along.

  28. The way Speed Channel retransmitted the prizes ceremony is beyond all I have seen so far: no Venezuelian anthem retransmitted (we had the publicity time instead) and no post race interview of the 3 podium winners: they presented instead an english soccer game (soccer on Speed!!)
    For the first time a Venezuelian racer won an F1 GP it would have been perhaps the only time the interviews would have been worth the airtime , not even talking about seeing Maldonnado during the anthem playing.
    Bad choices Speed Channel

    1. Though I completely share your disgust at the abrupt cut to soccer, it was my understanding (per Bob Varsha’s comments) that the re-broadcast of the race on Monday would include the full post-race coverage.

      Presumably, Speed would still have shown the soccer even if young Alexander Rossi had been needed to replace Petrov or Kovaleinen in the race and somehow managed to bring the Caterham home in P1.

  29. WOnderful result for the team… The curse of Sam Michael seems to have been transferred to McLaren…

  30. Dear all
    Michael, I concur with you- as the chequered flag dropped, I too was moved to tears. In the final stage of the race, after Pastor and Fernando had been though their final pitstops, I found myself praying- I am not exaggerating-, that by some stroke of luck, the Williams would stay in front of the Ferrari. And, it did. By God, it did. The day after Sir Frank’s 70th party.
    Sometimes, f1 seems venal, mercenary, to have lost both its way and its soul> sometimes, it is the zenith of motorsport on this planet, and, some times, some very rare times, it is otherworldly, divinely inspired, sheer, unadlulterated magic.
    So it was, yesterday- a race, and a result, that I will remember for the rest of my life.
    What a privelige it was to witness it.
    MarkR

  31. Considering the exotic components in an F1 car and what appears to have been burned – IT equipment and who knows what else – the toxicity of the smoke is a very serious issue for those with smoke inhalation. I hope the proper concern is being paid to this potential health issue for those who fought the fire.

    1. Good comment. My thoughts exactly, at first view of the video. This was some seriously black smoke, mostly or plastic origin, when seeing the garage go up in flames.
      By the way, Wacker, is that you?

  32. brilliant to see Williams back to winning ways and I sincerely hope the team can build on this success. Maldonado has definitely gone up in my estimation; before the race, I expected Alonso and Kimi to eat him for breakfast, maybe Grosjean too! What a stunning drive, though.

    1. Most impressive thing for me was the final pit stop undercut where Maldonado posted a laptime about 1.5 seconds faster than anyone else at that point.

  33. Like previous commenter, I do not particularly like Maldonado, but congrats to him for a well-earned victory. Unfortunate for the fire to ruin Williams’ celebration. Fantastic that there are five teams with wins this year, let’s go Lotus in Monaco!

  34. One of the team members has been reported to have serious burns. The win isn’t important, this guy’s condition is. Perhaps KERS is just too dangerous to have. I don’t know. But, if F1 developing it has no social value, then maybe it just be scrapped.

    I’m not sure about the victory is vindication for anything. You’re looking at a pay driver funded by dirty money from an oppressive dictator. The technical director, while never charged, is by all rights . . . a criminal. And the previous poster mentioned the share price. That reminds me that the IPO was a dubious scheme to pay off Patrick Head, offered the team minimal benefits, and was conducted on a suspect exchange.

    F1 is a better place with Williams winning, but let’s not too excited. This team is not what it once was and it’s not clear it is headed in the right direction.

  35. Sam Michael leaves…Williams win……Now McLaren appoint him and are the laughing stock…GG

    1. Not 100% with you re-Sam, but Mac have some arse chewing to do. Lets face it, where the mistakes have occurred – it aint f- – – – -g rocket science. The car works – just don’t get in its f – – – – g way.

  36. From the various photos I have seen of the fire in the Williams pit garage, there is a paucity of Spanish firefighters in evidence; pretty much all of the work is being done by Williams and other crews: can you provide any info on this observation? Whilst the medical facilities at circuits may be excellent these days, perhaps the same cannot be said about firefighting…

    1. i think it was ted kravitz was reporting that because of the direction of the smoke the fire crews couldnt get down the pit lane they had to go up the main straight and down the pitlane that might have something to do with it

  37. Happy for Williams, but I’m wondering if Schumacher isn’t onto something about the tires.

    It makes no sense that McLaren would start the season so well, and then be nowhere. For Mercedes to score one and be nowhere near the pace before or after the one win… Or Red Bull to win a race and be lapped at another. Sauber to almost win (just the once) and then Williams to come from mid-field and score a win… The most consistent team seems to be… Lotus !!!

    It’s gotta be more about finding “the Setup” that day, for that tire, than anything car related… i like the variety, but I’m wondering what’s going on, seems like some teams are too… 😉

    1. I don’t think the tyres are quite that bad. Williams’ pace is not such a big surprise as they’ve been extremely strong at other races if you study the data but have had very poor qualifying putting them in traffic and making their race pace hard to see. At the Mugello test, qualifying was clearly given some focus.

      McLaren too are not exactly nowhere suddenly as Hamilton was a full half second faster in qualifying and, but for the fuel error, would likely have won the race.

      As for Mercedes, China was definitely a blip which I think was simply a sheer pace advantage allowing them the time and space to manage their tyres better. Elsewhere they’ve been pretty consistent in their pace and tyre degradation.

      I think, if you really study the data of what’s going on things aren’t quite so random at all. You have to remember everything is massively exaggerated this year as there is generally less than a second covering 11 or 12 cars. The slightest slip and you’re mired in the midfield unable to show true pace and tucked up behind another car scrubbing your tyres all to hell.

      It’s a good season and Schumacher is just a little bitter, IMO.

    2. I have to disagree here. I don’t think things are anywhere near as random as is being mooted. Williams pace is no surprise if you study the data of previous races closely. They have been extremely quick in several races already, notably Australia and Malaysia but bad qualifying has resulted in them being stuck in the pack where the pace is hard to see. Qualifying was clearly given some focus at Mugello.

      McLaren too are not suddenly nowhere. Hamilton qualified half a second clear in Spain and, fuel error aside, would most likely have won the race quite easily.

      With Mercedes, I would say China is probably a bit of a blip though likely it was a sheer pace advantage with the huge straights that allowed them to build a lead and better manage their tyres rather than a sudden improvement in form. At the other races their performance has been relatively similar.

      All in all, I think the variation is more to do with how tightly packed the field is than anything else. When you have 1 second covering 11 or 12 places, the slightest slip or setup issue can drop you right into the midfield from where it becomes very hard to move up against similar paced cars.

      I think Schumacher is possibly just a little bit bitter.

    3. What concerns me is the effects of “race weekend” INTER-batch tyre performance variation. You could argue “So what?”. It’s the same for everybody during that weekend.

      Assuming the tyres are made in batches for a given race weekend there are three main concerns:
      1) INTRA-batch consistency: ie all tyre compound sets WITHIN the current weekend perform consistently. A significant intra-batch variation would confuse the data collected during the weekend and affect consistency of sector times…I don’t think this is the case.
      2) INTER-batch consistency: ie all tyre compounds in the current batch perform the same as the batch from the last race (or test). Inter-batch variation may suddenly benefit teams who struggled at the previous race but knock the confidence of the teams who thought they were beginning to understand the tyres at the last race.
      3) Of course both intra AND inter batch variability: = chaotic outcomes for everyone and that isn’t the case.

      Whilst it’s acceptable for Pirelli to do INTRA-batch QC tests for a given meeting, it’s not enough for Pirelli to do INTER-batch QC tests from meeting to meeting (assuming they do). The way the tyres are critically influencing the outcome of a weekend, EACH TEAM would need to have their own control sets of tyres with data to carry forward from the previous race to the current race to do set-up under the new temperature and track conditions. If not, set-up engineers could be thrown off course at the beginning of the weekend if they have to start from scratch with a new batch of tyres and no concrete evidence of how the previously understood tyres from the last race (or test) perform relative to the current tyre batch under the current track conditions and ambient environment.

      There are TOO many variables at work and I think narrowing down the tyre degradation has gone too far because I don’t believe Pirellis tyre QC will have narrowed proportionally. They should have carried on with last years tyre specs and just changed the regs on aero plus maybe tweak DRS and KERS use …at least the drivers would have more control over the outcome of a race and not Pirelli!

      1. I suspect that Pirelli’s quality control is actually fantastic and that, deliberate evolutions aside, the tyres that bounce off the production line do so within incredibly fine tolerances of structure, chemical composition, etc.

        Repeatable production is not too much to ask at the price they’re “selling” these tyres for.

        The interesting question is perhaps whether even they understand precisely how to get optimum race performance out of those same tyres. Maybe there really are “too many variables at work”, maybe it’s just a matter of time.

  38. I actually wonder what Kimi is thinking now? After all, the Williams seat could have been his. Not that he’s doing badly at Lotus of course.

    I must admit all the way though watching the race I was sure Williams or Pastor were going to drop the ball somewhere but I’m glad they didn’t. There is no doubt he is in the team because of his backing but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If it takes dollars to get teams looking at drivers like him and Perez then so what – there must be so many drivers who have missed opportunities as they couldn’t get the backing to move up or even people who could have been world champions but didn’t get the chance in the first place to try the sport.

    It isn’t how he got there, it is the fact that he is there and that Williams have put up with the shunts and problems and allowed him to develop.

    What I am now wondering though, is, what part the engine has played in all this. After all, Caterham haven’t been pushed towards the front by changing to Renault, so maybe the Cosworth isn’t such a bad motor after all?

    Am I right in thinking that we’ve had as many different race winners so far this season as we had visitors to the podium last season? I know there were comments that so few people had made it up there. Difficult to understand what has made such a difference but it is good for keeping the interest up.

    1. “Am I right in thinking that we’ve had as many different race winners so far this season as we had visitors to the podium last season?”

      Nearly, but not quite. Last year, there were 7 podium winners.

      1. It wouldn’t be a massive stretch to bet that Raikkonen, Grosjean and Hamilton will all win a race this season.

          1. I put Perez on the list the first time and then deleted it as I’m not sure that he’ll get another good roll of the dice like Malaysia. I’d love to see a win for Kobayashi, simply as an endorsement of his “over-take or die trying” attitude.

  39. Total aside – my email exploded into life at around 20:00hrs with 56 ‘new comment’ emails from WordPress.

    Like a wife waiting with his slippers and pipe, I thought ‘ah, Joe’s home’ lol

  40. No-one else noticed about Adam Parr? There are things you do not do as a director, things you likely have never had heard of, let alone evaluated, let alone debated the morals of. I was giving him it because worried over the company. Just who, exactly, was giving him it every other way, lightly here in the comments but hard elsewhere? First, consider the source. Wonderful races been too distracting? Are we forgetting someone in a court case? Short memories, boys and girls.

  41. This post more than any other has really brought out the nutters in the comments!

    I thought I was reading comments on a Daily Mail article. Disgusted from Tunbridge Wells etc.

  42. Williams, Ferrari and Lotus top three….needed to check i wasnt fifteen again! still cannot adequately express the joy i’m feeling at this win! just briiliant!

  43. It was bizarre that Speed cut away to broadcast a soccer game, especially when the same game was also broadcast just one channel away (on my cable provider) on Fox Soccer Channel. But let’s be realistic-F1 press conferences with the drivers are as boring as watching paint dry (or watching soccer….I couldn’t resist).

    But it’s was a great race-and a great season so far. Really looking forward to Monaco

    R.I.P. Carroll Shelby..one of the truly greats who did it all in his extraordinary life.

  44. I saw a Tweet from Martin Brundle saying that nobody has given Alex Wurz any credit for his driver coaching at Williams.

    Surely he must have had some impact on making Maldonado less erratic since Australia?

  45. Bernie’s b’day gift to Sir Frank. You won’t see a Williams sniff a podium from here on out. Reminds me of Bill France giving “the call.”

    1. Lazy conspiracy theory work. Good conspiracies aren’t so petty.

      Ask instead, why Grib’s trial has been delayed just past the hoped for flotation date, and why exactly Adam Parr resigned just on the cusp of being a hero.

      Here’s your homework. Connect the following:

      – William’s share price
      – Who bashed Williams in the press, and when.
      – Our missing man, Gribkovsky
      – Why suddenly the prosecution is delaying his trial past the expected F1 flotation date on various grounds they could have dealt with last year*.
      – The sudden rush to sell the F1 holding shares, coincidental to above.
      – Remaining intertwining of Bernie’s trusts with company structure which are under tax investigation last I heard, in the UK.
      – The “oops, forgot about that” sudden chat about Delta Prefco
      – The strangely precise tire variability
      – Adam Parr’s sudden resignation, just before reaping the spoils of his now obvious good work. (hint for other parts, it’s not all just the tires)
      – The sudden “get a move on” from Mercedes, and where their home is.
      – MSC’s inability to keep it on the track
      – The Bahrainis, obviously
      – Why I’m late for breakfast
      – and last but not least, the current whereabouts of The Mole

      *a decision contrary to fair trial procedures, in my book. More, when that resumes on I think it’s the 24th.

      (last four for extra class credit, exercise not complete until you have both a conspiracy for each, plus the overall conspiracy, and a debunk)

      1. And they say F1 is just about racing, glitz and glamour! Hey, can you imagine if the fuel explosion happened in Bahrain?

        Joe, I recall a year or two ago, that when certain “figures” are gone, a book about the dirty money of F1 will be written. I think that time maybe coming very soon. I cannot wait for that one…I’ll buy 30 books and pass them around myself. What a great read that’ll be….the stuff of legend.

      2. Well said John (other John)………….And this time I understood ALL the words.
        The homework will take a little longer..

        1. I always understand all the words, it’s ~15% of the net meaning that typically stumps me… so far, I’ve got this one down to about 20% but am still at it… never say die…

  46. laps with Alonso breathing down his neck. I didn’t see PM bobble even once. And I thought FA and KR hoisting PM onto their shoulders was pure class. Who cares if they were smiling? I know I was.

  47. To quote Adam Parr from a few months ago when he was in Australia and I was lucky enough to hear him speak at my University…
    “I underestimated the task we had in front of us, and the people we had were, frankly, not up to the task. The changes we have made will, or at least I hope they will, have a very positive impact on the team”

    Paraphrasing to a degree, but you get a rough idea. I do feel sorry for him, he didn’t get to enjoy this in the way he should have…

  48. RShack – Its Sauber who have Chelsea sponsorship.

    Colin – I don’t recall hearing of any deaths as a result of KERS systems in F1, please elaborate.

  49. I seem to recall Williams logging way more mileage than anyone else in the pre-season test, and I think at Mugello too. This brings benefits especially if tyres are critical.

  50. No KERS fatalities yet…

    Apologies Gents for my conjugated mis-remembering the KERS “fatality”.
    I’m at that funny age y’know, (between 8 and 80).

    There was a tragic suicide at Enstone around the time KERS was being first developed, and at least one Sauber mechanic has been zapped by a KERS shock. (He recovered.)

    But it is only a matter of time before there is a KERS fatality in F1, and the Williams conflagration was timely reminder of the folly of mixing massive voltage capacity with juxtaposed combustibles.

  51. Speaking of outrageous gifts… did I really read somewhere today that Lord Ecclestone of Biggin settled with his former wife for the sum of one billion smackers?

    If true, she sure knows some secrets.

    But it can’t be true, can it?

    1. And he’s marrying again…to misquote Mrs Merton “What first attracted you to your husband, the billionaire Bernie Ecclestone…?”

  52. Joe, can you explain to us how F1 assures that all drivers and teams have the same tires at each event? The random nature of team performance this year almost points to a random set of “ringer” tires in the mix. If there is another explaination it borders on mystery, cobwebs and batwings. Those expert engineers and drivers do not forget skills one week to the next.

    Not a fan of lottery racing by the way but (been following F1 since the first race) I do hope it is a fair fight. But given the IPO, Concord negoations, TV contracts, venue negoations and more my senses tell me that mischief is afoot to hype the show. Anyone who trusts BE is a fool.

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