Williams positive despite “extremely frustrating” race

2012 Singapore Grand Prix

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Williams say their “extremely frustrating” weekend in Singapore has given them confidence about their car’s potential.

The team qualified on the front row with Pastor Maldonado. However he retired during the safety car period, shortly after the team had taken the decision to sacrifice track position by switching him onto soft tyres.

His team mate Bruno Senna was running in the points when his car failed two laps from the end of the race.

Chief operations engineer Mark Gillan said it was “an extremely frustrating weekend”.

“It was what I would call a character building weekend, with the high expectations following a front row qualification and fast race pace ultimately dashed due to a double DNF and a risky strategy call.”

But Gillan added the team had “a tremendous amount of confidence” having seen the car’s performance.

“We saw that the car was capable of qualifying on the front row and that the race pace was equally impressive.

“Both drivers did a very good job in the race, with Pastor fighting hard at the front and Bruno carving his way from the back into a points scoring position before having to retire the car.”

Senna suffered burn marks on his back, which did not require treatment, during the race. As he retired the team warned him “the car is unsafe” and advised him to “jump out of the car, it could be a KERS problem”.

However Williams confirmed to F1 Fanatic that the KERS was not responsible for Senna’s burns.

Gillan added: “We are currently investigating the failures and have full confidence in getting to the root cause quickly and implementing the required fixes as soon as possible. At this stage we do not believe that the heat played a part in the failures.”

2012 Singapore Grand Prix

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Image © Williams/LAT

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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33 comments on “Williams positive despite “extremely frustrating” race”

  1. So the KERS and the car itself didn’t just fail, and the car wasn’t just potentially dangerous to leave, but… it actually somehow burned him, too? Hope you’ll forgive the immediate reaction to this, but… ***? If it wasn’t the KERS, what on earth would’ve caused that? (It’s the fuel cell that’s located basically directly behind the driver, isn’t it?)

    1. @leucocrystal Singapore’s the longest race of the year and a very hot one. It’s also particularly bumpy circuit. So it may simply be a combination of friction from the track and ever-rising internal temperatures within the car as it reached the maximum duration it’s expected to run for.

      Mark Webber retired because he was being burned during the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix:

      Top ten… Weirdest F1 retirements

      1. Hey, that’s not fair, this user can edit his comments! ;-)

        1. @AdrianMorse What is more, you cannot report him to the website owner.

      2. @keithcollantine Oh, I’m aware of that, it just sounds like something that’s pretty rare, even in a place like Singapore. Can you recall hearing about something like this happening any more recently than 2004? I’m genuinely curious!

        1. I got this confusing quote from GPUpdate: “Williams will soon confirm the precise problems for both cars, including that which left Senna with burns as he made his way back to the paddock on foot.” Doesn’t that sound like he burned his feet walking on a hot surface or something?!

          1. The burn was on his back read here http://www1.skysports.com/news/12040/8111445/

            It was the William KERS issue that caused fire to Senna car in pit garage in Spain. Is Williams car safe to drive?

          2. The burn was on his back read here

            Or you could just read it on the page you’re already on, in this article.

          3. @mjj Don’t expect to hear the answer to that question from Williams! I’m sure we’d all like to assume that it is (did we ever even get a final answer on the cause of that fire? I can’t recall hearing one…), but if it really is a problem with the KERS unit, I imagine that won’t be something they want to loudly advertise. The Williams flywheel KERS system is a big investment for the team, and something Marussia will be racing next year.

          4. @leucocrystal While Williams has developed a flywheel KERS unit they have never raced it in their F1 cars. They have used a battery KERS in F1 in 2011 and 2012. A flywheel KERS from Williams Hybrid Power Ltd is used in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro which finished 1-2 at Le Mans this year.

          5. @Ogurka Oh, I’m aware they don’t use the flywheel system in their F1 cars, but as I understand it overall they invest a lot in their KERS technology, including what they do race in F1, as well as outside of it. Anything that sheds poor light on the technology is probably not the best thing for them, but who knows. The battery certainly does seem to be situated in just about the right part of the car, though, to have burned Senna’s back…

    2. @leucocrystal Williams have now said a loose wiring loom was to blame:

      To confirm, Bruno’s burns were due to a wiring loom seal coming loose in the seat allowing heat from back of car to escape-not KERS related


      1. Good to actually get some confirmation on that. Ouch! Good to hear he’s pretty much healed as well.

      2. Did you catch last nights “TheFlyingLap” show @keithcollantine? Windsor had Renault man Remi Taffin, Head of Track Operations on-line talking about the Alternator issues but also telling us about Senna’s car and how parts were scorched behind his back.

    3. @leucocrystal I knew there was another driver this happened to more recently – it was Karthikeyan last year:

      HRT: Karthikeyan suffers “unbearable pain” in race

  2. Williams may be confident of the car’s potential, but I got the impression that this circuit suited the FW34 better than other tracks, so definitely a missed opportunity (also because finally Pastor was delivering, and then the car lets them down). I was a little surprised to see Maldonado seemingly struggle on his super softs after the second stop, when Alonso was all over the back of him, but otherwise he had shown good race pace.

    Senna showed decent race pace as well, but his practice (this time including FP1) and qualifying was dreadful. I had hoped Senna had turned a corner after Hungary, but unless he consistently steps it up in the final six races, I cannot see how Williams will maintain him for next year.

  3. I think Red Bull, Williams, Force India like traction-demand track while Sauber, Ferrari, Lotus like high speed corner. Mclaren is strong both type of circuit. I believe Williams will be weaken in Japan and Sauber will come back in form.

    1. I think like McLaren, Williams is an all round car. Except Monza, they looked fast almost every weekend from Silverstone-Spa to Monaco-Singapore, a combination of strength Force India and Sauber. They should do well in Suzuka, may be not as fast as Sauber but expecting Pastor to be in top-5 in qualy.

  4. Red Bull would again struggle at Suzuka for striagt-line speed and William’s chances of taking solid points might have been gone, as they are not so strong in high speed circuits. Especially when the next few circuits are fast.

  5. How nice it is to see Williams competing after last season. Shame, I’d have liked to see Barichello in the car rather than Senna :)

    1. Barichello/Senna would have been a better pairing I think. Ruebens would have been able to develop the car far better than either current driver, and with the relationship that he has with Bruno, he would have been able to nurture Senna into a more complete driver far quicker… basically making up for some of Bruno’s lost development time after his family stopped him racing (understandably)


      1. I see your point, but for all his foibles, Maldonado is by far the faster driver of the current Williams pair. Perhaps having a driver of Barichello’s quality and experience next to him for this second season he would have faired a little better on scoring points then he has.

    2. I totally agree. Bring Rubens back next year!

  6. Is Williams car safe to drive if they have to warn the driver that the car is unsafe and jump out? Every driver step into the car is trusting his live with it. I hope they fix the failure properly and not doing shoddy work like the way they fixed the steering column back in ’94. The F1 safety committee should look into this type of incident as well to ensure that the cars are safe for the drivers.

    1. and on what basis are you saying that they “fixed the steering column”…..?

      1. It is a well known fact that Williams did a bad welding of the steering wheel column of Ayrton Senna’s car in ’94. Adrian Newey said in May 2011 “There’s no doubt the steering column failed and the big question was whether it failed in the accident or did it cause the accident? It had fatigue cracks and would have failed at some point.” We would never know the exact cause of the accident but no engineer should send a driver out in a car that is not safe be it a fatigue in car component or problem with KERS that can cause the car to overheat. What was the actual cause of the Williams Senna’s car to go up in fire in pit garage in Spain? Will they reveal the actual reason of the burn to Senna this time?

        1. The fire was caused by something on one of the fuelling rigs, certainly not by KERS batteries. And as is mentioned above, neither was the issue in Singapore caused by KERS.

  7. It was such a shame they had the double DNF. Things couldn’t have gone much worse for them. I guess the burns don’t surprise me much but it would be interesting to know just how hot it got in there when compared to other races.

  8. I think as a Williams fan, this season has been almost as frustrating as the last one. Instead of having a slow, unreliable car, we’ve now got a great car and we’re hardly getting any points out of it! Williams should be up there fighting with Sauber or even Mercedes in the Constructors. Finishing 8th overall with a car this fast is just not good enough.

    1. But it was unreliable in Singapore, both cars were retired one with hydraulic issue and the other KERS problem. The KERS problem also happened in Spain that caused the car to go up in fire while in the pit garage.

      1. The fire started in the fuel area, nothing to do with sennas car!!

  9. I fear the safety of the Williams car after that alarming message to the driver to jump out of car and that Spain pit garage fire which Bernie suspect due to the battery unit problem/KERS.

  10. I want Bruno to succed but I am not sure how this years results may look on him.

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