Sir Frank Williams has conceded that his eponymously-named team has indulged in 'too much showboating' in Formula 1 in 2009, with Nico Rosberg topping the timing screens in free practice more often than not – but going on to register a scant 4.5 points from the opening five outings of the campaign.
The young German has led the way in nine of the 17 practice sessions to-date this year, including FP2 in Monte Carlo ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix. He has slipped back a touch in qualifying, however, twice lining up inside the top five on the starting grid but equally on the other three occasions winding up in the wrong half of the top ten.
Worse still, on race day the 23-year-old former GP2 Series Champion has notched up a best finish of a lowly sixth position in the Melbourne curtain-raiser back at the end of March, with eighth places in the rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang and the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona a fortnight ago the only other occasions on which he has troubled the scorers.
That has led some paddock observers to label Williams the 'practice kings' of 2009 – and Sir Frank admitted that the multiple world champions have failed to exploit the full potential of their Toyota-powered, 'double-decker' diffuser-equipped FW31 in the early stages of the season, acknowledging that he is far from content with the situation.
“The word is showboating, perhaps,” the Englishman replied when asked about his team's form so far this year, “[and a] bit too much of that probably. Formula 1 always finds out the truth pretty quickly; if you are quick, the race will tell you that you are quick. In practice you can fool people – including yourself. The best way to review anything like that is to look at the results after each and every race – that's why we are here.”
Nonetheless, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug has tipped the independent Grove-based outfit to be 'seriously strong' around the narrow, tortuous streets of the Principality, where it has triumphed on three previous occasions – and it could have the opportunity to be even stronger still in 2010 under the FIA's contentious new budget cap regulations, with Williams unsurprisingly making no secret of his favour for the radical initiative. He was also outspoken on the escalating row brewing between Ferrari and the sport's governing body over the matter – with the Scuderia
threatening to withdraw should the rules not be changed.
“We are clearly wholly in support of it,” the 67-year-old stated. “It suits us. To expect a major manufacturer to slash its spending by 300 per cent in four months is a very tall fiscal order and they may need some sort of glide path once the rule is finally agreed, but I repeat we need it.
“I think the biggest single issue that has caused the recent events to take place has been the imposition or wish to impose the budget cap – it's to do with money. Ferrari don't really need this help – they're a very, very strong and wealthy team. It will be a great shame if they do go, but if they go I hope that it won't be in a fit of pique.
“They've had many years under this Concorde Agreement and the previous one in a very privileged position, which if it had been known previously would not have gone down very well, I think, with the competition authorities in Brussels, so it would be better for them to put their cap on and come back inside.”