Williams has learned its lesson from a trying 2008 campaign during which it struggled for consistency and season-long pace – that is the view of star driver Nico Rosberg, who is confident that the multiple world championship-winning Grove-based outfit is in for a much stronger year in 2009, after lapping right up at the sharp end of proceedings in practice for the third race in succession in Shanghai.
Despite losing his unbroken record of topping the timesheets this year to Lewis Hamilton in FP1 ahead of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, Rosberg nonetheless remained one of the men to beat on the opening day of proceedings, setting the seventh-fastest time in the morning and improving to second outright later on in the afternoon, less than three hundredths shy of pace-setter Jenson Button.
Team-mate Kazuki Nakajima, by contrast, found himself all at sea early on down in 19th place, before hauling himself up to seventh come the end of the day, as Williams endeavours to convert the promising raw pace it has demonstrated thus far this season into on-track results at last, with Rosberg's sixth position Down Under in Melbourne and eighth a week later in Sepang all the team currently has to show for its efforts – inarguably far less than it deserves.
“It's been an interesting day for us,” affirmed the son of 1982 F1 World Champion Keke Rosberg. “We've learned a lot, particularly about the tyres and how to get the best out of them here.
“The one major thing for us at the moment, though, is that this season we have consistency from one track to another. We're now going to a race and not getting any big surprises, as we seem to have learned from our mistakes from last year.”
“It was a bit difficult out there for me today,” countered Nakajima. “The tyres were behaving strangely this morning, but they did improve a little this afternoon. I was also struggling to find a good balance. I now need to see where I can improve for qualifying tomorrow. We'll see how we go.”